The prohibitive increase in housing costs and the conflicting emotions of joy and anxiety that came with living in Malta were the issues working migrants raised with Archbishop Charles Scicluna on 30th April 2024, eve of the feast of St Joseph the Worker.

Several migrants from Sub-Saharan and West Africa, as well as South and Southeast Asia who gathered at the Archbishop’s Curia in Floriana, thanked the Archbishop for welcoming them as a father, while acknowledging the Church’s role as a defender of workers’ dignity.

During the meeting — organised by the Migrants Commission in collaboration with the Justice and Peace Commission — the migrants shared their joys and hopes, grief and anxieties of living and working in Malta and spoke about the life trajectories that brought them here.

Malta, they said, had become home for them; a place where they experienced a sense of belonging and engaged in meaningful friendships with the Maltese. The island is safe and offers them protection and various opportunities. On the flip side, they shared their concerns about abuse and exploitation at the workplace, struggles with securing work contracts, as well as experiences of xenophobia and bureaucratic delays.

Those present reported experiences of deep suffering when facing asylum procedures, or when attempting to obtain or renew the single work permit. One issue that deeply impacted all workers’ quality of life — of whatever nationality — was the exorbitant increase in housing costs witnessed over the last few years.

The migrants also raised the importance of offering stability and security to children born in Malta. Moreover, despite having lived and worked in Malta for several years, migrants still lacked proper and secure documentation and lived in constant fear of being deported. The need for transparent pathways to obtain long-term residence permits and citizenship was discussed.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna emphasised the importance of human dignity and stated it must be honoured in all spheres of life: “We need to listen to one another and we need to be able to give hope to each and every one of us.”

Those who attended the meeting left feeling grateful to the Archbishop for having listened to their concerns and for offering them a safe space to speak out.