The man behind a company accused of stripping workers of their rights and wages insists his company played by the rules, saying he urged authorities to regulate the industry , only to then lose business and many of its employees to rival companies that break the law.
Former food couriers employed by RecruitGiant said the company took away their rights and decent working conditions, but CEO Tomas Mikalauskas hit back and said instead his company was the first and only to urge the authorities to regulate an industry plagued by abuse. .
Moreover, it was the first company to adopt the new regulations proposed by the Professional and Social Relations Department (DIER) and that it “opened the way by guaranteeing couriers the best possible employment conditions”.
However, he did not respond to specific questions about his company’s alleged practices.
Last Sunday, the Times of Malta published an article revealing how RecruitGiant hired food couriers with an attractive work contract they signed in their home country, only to have them sign a second contract with much less favorable terms. upon their arrival in Malta.
Having already shelled out over €8,000 to move to Malta, the couriers signed the second contract, which swallowed up almost their entire probationary period, along with several decent working conditions.
The first contract promised permanent employment with a six-month trial period, a gross monthly salary of over €1,000 and up to 40 hours of work in a five-day week.
The second was a one-year fixed-term contract with a trial period of only one month. And that required a minimum of 40 hours per week.
While the salary of the first contract was based on 40 hours of work in accordance with Maltese law, the second stipulated that “working hours” only meant the hours during which the courier delivered the orders. The courier would not be paid for idle time spent waiting outside restaurants between deliveries.
As a result, couriers started working exorbitant 80-hour weeks and still not managing minimum wage at the end of the month.
When, after two or three months, the workers quit because they couldn’t take it anymore, the company informed them that they had to pay an extra €4,000 for quitting after the trial period. a month.
‘Over-simplification of a complex issue’
In his reaction, Mikalauskas said the story was a “gross simplification of a very complex issue” and that the issues “deserved serious debate”.
He pointed out that his company was the first and only to play by the rules, only to haemorrhage workers and lose a lot of business.
However, he did not respond to questions about questionable contracts or specific working conditions.
Mikalauskas said his company “has always conducted its operations in full consultation and transparency with all relevant authorities, including Identity Malta and DIER (the Department of Industrial Relations and Employment), and that it has no” never benefited from the relocation process of a third party”. – nationals of countries in Malta”.
“We make our money from the fees we collect from the companies we provide employees to,” he said.
The company has been present in Malta for four years and recruits among others drivers, plumbers, electricians and waiters.
“I think readers, who will no doubt have had a negative impression of RecruitGiant, deserve a fuller understanding of how this industry works,” he said, adding that no laws or regulations cover food couriers. .
I think readers, who will no doubt have left a negative impression of RecruitGiant, deserve a fuller understanding of how this industry works.– Tomas Mikalauskas, CEO of RecruitGiant
He insisted his company was the only one trying to play by the rules in an industry plagued by abuse.
“It’s a problem we’ve been trying to solve for years,” he said, explaining that when DIER finally reacted to [our] concerns and issued clear guidelines on how couriers should be employed, his company “moved quickly” to adopt the guidelines.
But the result was “a loss of business”, he said.
“As soon as we passed the guidelines, drivers immediately started quitting. This is because other fleets continued, and continue to this day, to operate irregularly,” he explained.
“They do this by officially paying drivers a minimum wage, but then supplementing it with additional undeclared cash payments. The result is that drivers are happy to be employed on an irregular basis and willing to accept other abusive conditions to earn that extra bit of money they can send to their relatives.
Mikalauskas said that when this happened, his company tried to partner with DIER “and platforms like Bolt” to try to keep doing the right thing, but none of them did. cooperated and Bolt went so far as to terminate their contract.
Questions addressed to the Department of Industrial Relations and Employment have so far remained unanswered.
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