The General Workers Union (GWU) took the lead on the discussion of the national living income by presenting their comprehensive research on the topic at a meeting of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD), which was also attended by the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Dialogue, Hon. Andy Ellul.
The study, which was conducted in collaboration with the Graffitti Movement and the Alliance Against Poverty (AKF) was presented by Kurt Xerri, Daniel Gravino, and Joseph Gravina, who delivered their detailed findings to the social partners.
An overview of the study’s methodology along with its quantitative and qualitative purposes was given before the they moved on to explain how visiting the homes of Maltese families gave a deep insight to their needs. Core features of family life such as health, nutrition, housing, education, transportation, and leisure were scrutinised and a point which was give significant emphasis was that leisure is to be viewed as deeply valuable and enriching.
The GWU’s study and its aim to highlight the need to increase the national living income was praised by the Social Partners, who went on to make a series of recommendations which included purchasing power amongst other significant topics. They said that it is important to consider workers as valuable assets and worthy of investment by businesses rather than seeing them as an expense.
The exploitation of foreign workers by certain businesses was also addressed, as the social partners were concerned about the implications of this for the labour market. They also pushed for further employment opportunities for people with disabilities to alleviate economic stress on their families.
During the meeting, the significance of such studies and research was deemed as highly important in aiding our understanding the standard of living of Maltese society, as well as serving as a catalyst for social change by improving quality of life and planning how to do so. The enhancement of employment opportunities and overall quality of life of Maltese and Gozitan citizens were emphasised as the goals that underpin the MCESD’s work.
David Xuereb, Chairman of the MCESD clarified that discussions like the one generated by the study, are very active within the meetings of the Low Wage Commission (LWC). By maintaining regular discussions with representatives from unions, employers, and the government, the LWC’s aim is to make recommendations for a potential review of Malta’s minimum wage by the end of 2023.
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