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MaltaToday 4 June 2023

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 4 JUNE 2023 NEWS MATTHEW VELLA ALMOST half of Malta's non-Maltese workforce has been on average employed for just 1 year, before upping sticks and leaving the island. Data presented in the House of Repre- sentatives shows that over 48,000 foreign workers employed in Malta between 2013 and 2023 spent just 12 months in employ- ment. They represented 25% of the total work- force of 190,000 of foreign workers over the same decade, a sign that one in every four of these workers pass through Malta for non-permanent employment. But the effects of such temporary em- ployment will be felt by those who com- plain of infrastructural pressures from migrant labour, language barriers, and problems inside communities which lack cohesion. The Jobsplus data was tabled in the House by the finance minister in a PQ filed by Na- tionalist MP Rebekah Borg. On average, the foreign worker employed in Malta between 2013 and December 2022 spent just over 22 months in continuous employment. Another 98,664 foreign workers remained active in the Maltese labour market. Of the cohort of 91,000 workers no longer active, 48,000 spent not more than one year in employment (52%). Just over 1,300 work- ers spent the entire decade in employment before leaving (1.5%). Foreign workers in 2013 totalled 13,500, and climbed to over 70,000 by the end of 2022. The greatest leap in foreign employ- ment was in 2018, when workers increased by almost 40% from 29,000 to 40,000. The data is gleaned from the Labour Force Sur- vey, which data does not always accurately include the total number of gainfully occu- pied workers. The LFS however suggests the average sal- aries of this foreign workforce remain well below €20,000 in 2022: the mean salary for this large cohort, which includes both EU and non-EU nationals, was €17,000 in 2013, and grew to just over €19,900 in 2022, a 17% increase over 10 years. The figures exclude supplemental incomes from overtime, bo- nuses or allowances. The same data also suggests that with a median national income of €16,500 for for- eign workers in 2022, a very large segment of this foreign workforce is employed in Malta's lowest paying jobs. Foreign working class A decade of massive economic growth in Malta marked by the importation of labour from overseas, saw more foreign workers replace a declining share of Maltese work- ers in the lowest-paid salary bands. Despite a growth in Maltese workers from 155,000 in 2012, to 174,000 in 2022, the actual number of 'native' workers paid less than €20,000 decreased by a sheer one- third – 29.1%. In 2012 there were 108,000 Maltese na- tionals earning less than €20,000 a year; a decade later they fell to 77,000. In all other salary bands, there was an increase in the Maltese workforce. The same data suggests that many of these jobs were directly filled by low- er-paid migrants from outside the Euro- pean Union, even if these numbered just 37,000 in 2022. So called third-country nationals totalled just 3,560 in 2012, growing exponential- ly since then. Yet the largest increases in TCNs were in those salary bands that fall below €20,000: from a mere 3,000 in 2012 (85% of the TCN workforce) to 29,000 (71% of TCN workforce). The data clearly suggests the slow 'decline' in lower-paid working class jobs for Maltese nationals, was eventually taken up by work- ers from outside the European Union. Foreign workers: one in four leave after one year PA set to refuse five-storey 'precedent' on Hamrun main street Duration Inactive foreign workers 0 - 1 years 47,979 1 - 2 years 15,846 2 - 3 years 9,690 3 - 4 years 6,213 4 - 5 years 4,026 5 - 8 years 5,551 8 - 10 years 1,357 10 - 15 years 739 15 - 25 years 185 Over 25 years 46 Total 91,632 JAMES DEBONO AN application to construct a five-storey block consisting of four one-bedroom apartments has been slated for refusal by the PA's case officer, for being in breach of policies protecting streetscapes from pencil developments. If approved, the application could set a precedent for the com- plete transformation of Hamrun's main road, which is still mostly characterised by a uniform street- scape of two and three-storey buildings. The existing two-storey build- ing shares a decorative 'opramor- ta' and a frontispiece with the remaining part of the building, which is not included in the appli- cation. This building is also locat- ed within a row of houses having similar architectural features. The plans envisage the resto- ration of the existing façade on the first two storeys, including an improved shopfront design, and three overlying levels, one of which is receded by 4.25m. The Superintendence for Cul- tural Heritage welcomed the pro- posed works to restore the tradi- tional façade but warned that the vertical extension of only part of this building would result in a development that does not fit well with the overall surrounding streetscape. The Superintendence also warned that the proposed height would set an undesired precedent for further vertical development along this legible streetscape. It recommended that the height of the building should not exceed that of the three-storey building on the left of the property. Moreover, according to the Planning Authority's case officer, the creation of blank walls and the lack of continuity in the design of the proposed development would not positively contribute to the improvement of the quality of the streetscape. Another reason cited by the case officer for refusing the permit was that the proposed development would exceed existing height lim- its. The maximum height allowed in the local plan is three floors and a basement, which translates to a height of 16.3m. As proposed, the development would be 17.83m with a street facade height of 14.43m. The architect justified this deviation by referring to a similar permit issued in Sliema. But this is not the only develop- ment threatening the uniformity of Ħamrun's main road, as the PA had already set a precedent in 2020 by approving a five-sto- rey development further down the road in the direction of Blata l-Bajda. The development, approved three years ago, is of three new floors, of which two are recessed. The approval was granted despite strong objections by the Ħamrun local council, which warned of the dangerous precedent within the locality and specifically within the street itself. In fact, the latest ap- plication is proposing a building of the same height as the one ap- proved in 2020. The Superintendence then had also described the proposed height as excessive and one that disrupted the existing predomi- nant rhythm and proportions of the streetscape. On that occasion, the Superintendence made it clear that it would consider acceptable only the addition of one floor above the existing protruding cor- nice. The building in Hamrun's main road, earmarked for development into a five- storey block

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