Monday 08 August 2022

It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta’ do it

One of the most common complaints I hear is that people go to restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as supermarkets, only to find that the waiting staff and cashiers are not Maltese, and the customer is obliged to speak in English.

“Why aren’t these jobs being given to Maltese?” they demand, followed swiftly by the hackneyed phrase, “they’re taking our jobs!”

But wait a minute, not so fast. For the frequency of complaints by the customer is pretty much matched by an equal slew of complaints by the employer. Only this time, the shoe is on the other foot, as business owners lament the fact that despite advertising vacancies, no Maltese nationals are coming forward to fill the posts. Or when they do take up the job, they prove to be unreliable and unprofessional. Logic tells you that if no Maltese want these jobs, and foreign nationals are only happy to do them, then it is obvious that the employer is going to take what he or she can get.

Yes, I know. As you are reading this you are probably muttering about the low wages on offer as one of the reasons that the Maltese do not want these low level jobs. You are right, but then low wages and salaries are comparatively low across the board in this country, no matter what job you are in. Even professional posts which require years of study at University such as teaching and vocational jobs which demand true dedication such as nursing and social work, are not exactly offering high figure salaries. Mention any job/profession in Malta, including my own field of journalism, and I guarantee you that the renumeration is no where near what similar posts are paid in other countries. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles; we all know we should be earning much more for the work we do but we have to live with it. (Unless that is, you get yourself a sweet consultancy job in which case, taxpayers’ money is no object and you get a mouthwatering salary for doing…we are not quite sure what).

But let’s go back to waitresses and waiters, to cashiers and salesgirls and to all the other “ordinary” jobs the Maltese seem so reluctant to do. Someone has to do these jobs and acting surly and unpleasant about it because you hate the work is not going to help matters. The minimum wage is not much, granted, but considering that these jobs are usually taken up by those who do not have many qualifications and no other skills, what I always wonder is, how much do they honestly expect to be paid? There is a reason that your parents tell you to hit the books and study so that you can get a good job – it is because without qualifications your options are going to be very limited, and that includes the scale of pay you can reasonably expect to be paid. Can the unemployed Maltese really afford to turn their nose up at a job just because it is not to their liking and they deem the pay to be too low? I’ll answer that myself. Yes, apparently they can afford to do so, because otherwise employers would not be complaining that it’s practically impossible to find Maltese people to fill the vacancies. In fact, they don’t even submit an application or turn up for an interview.

(And for those who claim that foreigners are being paid less, if you know this for a fact, you should report the establishment to the ETC because it is illegal).

This entitled attitude is only possible because many young people who are unemployed still live at home and are cared for by the Bank of Mum and Dad. That’s quite a cushion; that’s quite a nice arrangement. There is no incentive to get off your butt and go find a job, and you can loll around all day if you want to because someone else is footing the bill. This culture of dependency does not bother them one bit. Why should they toil away at a backbreaking job for long hours which pays so little? Might as well just stay at home. And if and when they do finally start working at some job, it is quite common for them to throw in the towel and quit very quickly because the concept of hard work is anathema to them.

And before anyone jumps down my throat, this is not me saying this, but employers who have to bear the brunt of dealing with this type of me ne frega behaviour all the time. Faced between the choice of a lazy 20-something Maltese person who expects the boss to be grateful that he actually showed up for work, and an eager 20-something foreign national grateful that he has a job in order to pay his rent….do you really blame the employer for choosing the latter?

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