Play­mo­bil em­ploy­ing in­mates at Cor­radino in sus­pected ‘cheap labour’ scheme

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS - Ju­lian Bon­nici

Play­mo­bil Malta is em­ploy­ing in­mates at Cor­radino Cor­rec­tional Facility to do work sim­i­lar to its ‘home-work­ers’ scheme, in which the com­pany’s cheap pay­ments to sub-con­trac­tors has re­sulted in the pre­car­i­ous em­ploy­ment of in­di­vid­u­als who get paid well below the min­i­mum wage and as lit­tle as €1.90 per hour.

This fol­lows an anony­mous let­ter that was sent to The Malta In

de­pen­dent on Sun­day claim­ing that in­mates were be­ing paid with ci­garettes for their work for Play­mo­bil.

Act­ing Di­rec­tor for the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­i­ties Mariella Camil­leri de­nied the claim, in­sist­ing that CCF fa­cil­i­tates and su­per­vises the tran­si­tion of work from the provider to the in­mates. She also en­sured that in­mates get a mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion for their work, once a cheque is de­posited by the ex­ter­nal work sup­plier, which is au­dited by the mother com­pany.

CCF does not get paid for its role in the pro­cess, in­vest­ing in­stead in its hu­man re­sources for th­ese ini­tia­tives on a daily ba­sis.

Camil­leri also re­vealed that Her­itage Homes also uses the ser­vice, which in­volves in­mates paint­ing sou­venirs.

The di­rec­tor has re­peat­edly ig­nored ques­tions ask­ing for the ex­act amounts be­ing paid to each in­mate, in­stead telling the news­room that “dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing and a re­port is to be pre­sented to the Min­is­ter re­gard­ing the way for­ward.”

How­ever, in spite of be­ing asked, Camil­leri did not re­veal what was be­ing dis­cussed, and what the re­port will con­cern.

Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Michael Far­ru­gia did not re­ply to ques­tions sent con­cern­ing the afore­men­tioned dis­cus­sion and re­port.

Last May, this news­room ini­tially re­ported that the Ger­man com­pany en­gages sub­con­trac­tors, who then em­ploy Mal­tese peo­ple to assem­ble toys, pay­ing them be­tween €1.90 and €2.00 per hour to work from home, in a clear vi­o­la­tion of em­ploy­ment laws by sub­ject­ing in­di­vid­u­als to pre­car­i­ous con­di­tions of work.

It was also found that the com­pany re­quires sub­con­trac­tors to ad­here to strict pro­duc­tion reg­u­la­tions. Doc­u­ments in­di­cate that in re­spect of one prod­uct, the sub-con­trac­tor will be paid €11.40 for ev­ery 1,000 pieces that are pro­duced in three hours. This trans­lates to roughly 350 units at €3.99 per hour, mean­ing that the work­ers assem­ble one piece ev­ery ten sec­onds.

In other in­stances, sub­con­trac­tors are re­quired to pro­duce 1,000 pieces for €16 at a rate of 250 per hour. This means that the in­di­vid­ual will pro­duce one ev­ery fif­teen sec­onds or 1,000 in four hours. It is hu­manly im­pos­si­ble to pro­duce more units per hour to reach the min­i­mum wage rate.

Well-in­formed and trusted sources also told this news­pa­per that Play­mo­bil Malta is­sues in­voices to the sub-con­trac­tors ac­cord­ing to the to­tal units pro­duced. This, the sources claim, is a way of dis­guis­ing the true cost of the wage per hour should the au­thor­i­ties chal­lenge this prac­tice, some­thing which, as yet, has not hap­pened yet.

Last June, the De­part­ment for In­dus­trial and Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions (DIER) launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter this news­room’s rev­e­la­tions.

DIER Di­rec­tor San­dra Gatt told the news­room that dur­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tions, EIRA in­spec­tors who vis­ited Play­mo­bil Malta and a few of the sub-con­trac­tors, and in­ter­viewed both the man­age­ment and em­ploy­ees, found no wrong-do­ing in the in­ter­nal struc­ture of the com­pany but con­cluded that there was an is­sue sur­round­ing ‘home work­ers’.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cern­ing sub-con­trac­tors and home work­ers had been sum­mar­ily opened, which as of Septem­ber was still on-go­ing.

The Mal­tese c om­pany’s cur­rent CEO, Matthias Frauser, re­fused to answ e r ques­tions sent to him when the story broke, with a spokesman say­ing that the com­pany re­fuses to speak to the me­dia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.