Campaign for Decent Minimum Wage launches – Decent Wages Tour

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Campaign for Decent Minimum Wage launches - Decent Wages TourThe Campaign for Decent Minimum Wage today launch its Decent Wages Tour at the tour’s first stop – Valletta. Organisations and individuals involved in the Campaign will be visiting several localities and workplaces around Malta to explain and discuss their proposal for a raise in the minimum wage – an 11% increase spread over three years, through a 3.5% increase per year.

The Campaign said that through this proposal, people who are presently on the minimum wage will be receiving, in three years’ time, an additional €80 monthly over and above COLA increases.

“Moreover, such an increase will create pressure for a raise in other low wages, meaning that more workers will start receiving a decent wage. Following the Campaign’s launch in October 2016, we have been meeting with political parties, workers’ unions and civil society organisations to discuss and gather feedback on our proposal,” it said.

The Campaign said that it has been following developments regarding this issue and have analysed and commented on figures and reports relevant to the minimum wage. “The public’s response to our proposal has been very positive and it has encouraged us to continue and intensify our Campaign.,” it said.

“It is worrying that, according to Eurofund calculations, Malta is one of only four EU countries where the value of the minimum wage taken in the context of changing price levels, has decreased over the past seven years. Moreover, according to Eurostat figures released in February 2017, Malta is one of seven countries with a minimum wage that is less than 50% of the country’s median income.”

The Campaign added that, it is essential that the minimum wage is increased so as to have a fairer distribution of wealth and a stronger economy.

Calls for a pay rise are also happening on a European level, with the European trade union movement (ETUC) launching its campaign “Europe needs a pay rise = it’s time for OUR recovery.” Germany has this year increased its minimum wage. “A few points that have been raised following the launch of our Campaign merit clarification, it said.”

“It has been stated that a raise in the minimum wage is not a solution to poverty,” the Campaign said. “This is a straw man argument since the Campaign never claimed it is. Whilst it might partly address hardships faced by the working poor, the proposal is primarily based on the principle of social justice – workers are entitled to receive a fair wage for their work, and this is currently not the case. We also recognise that increasing the minimum wage by “€80 (over and above COLA) is the bare minimum and that this small increase won’t make the minimum wage a fair wage. However, it will be an important step towards more fairness.”

“It was claimed by some that an increase in the minimum wage will create upward pressure on other wages, something that our economy cannot sustain. The Campaign recognises that a raise in the minimum wage will create pressure on other low wages to increase. We consider this as a necessary and desirable effect of raising the minimum wage since many people are working on low wages that are only slightly higher than the minimum wage. These low wages need to increase too. However, upward pressure will be limited since the proposal envisages just an €80 increase on the minimum wage.”

The Campaign stated that “this won’t create upward pressure in high income brackets since €80 would only constitute an extremely small percentage of a high wage. Moreover, alongside an increase in the minimum wage, Government should also review the Wage Regulations Order (the legislation setting minimum wages in different sectors) so that any potential increase in other low wages happens in a controlled fashion.”

The Campaign reiterated that a minimum wage increase should not take the form of benefits or allowances paid by the government because this would not be reflected in pensions of low income earners. “Moreover, we believe that the state should not subsidise low wages from taxpayers’ money as it is the responsibility of those making profits to pay decent wages.”

“Arguments stating that the Maltese economy cannot sustain such a minimal increase in the minimum wage contrast sharply with assertions about Malta’s strong economic performance. A truly strong economy won’t face major challenges because of an increase in its very low statutory minimum wage.”

“On the contrary, it can have several economic benefits, such as a decrease in worker turnover and more circulation of money in the economy,” said the Campaign, “Moreover, our proposal includes suggestions about fiscal measures and government interventions that would help those enterprises that might struggle if the minimum wage is increased.”

In the coming months, the Campaign for a Decent Minimum Wage said that it will be discussing its proposal for a minimum wage increase directly with the people whilst visiting localities and workplaces during the Decent Wages Tour.

Tour dates and places will be advised on www.pagaminima.org

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