Moviment Graffitti and Zminijietna on the economy & the minimum wage
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Moviment Graffitti and Zminijietna – Voice of the Left, have both issued statements on the occasion of Workers’ Day.
Moviment Graffitti said that its activists have today commemorated Workers’ Day by placing a banner in front of the Workers’ Monument in Msida – ‘Riches given to the wealthy…8 peanuts given to workers.
“We believe that the economic policies being pursued are made to measure for the wealthy few and disadvantageous to the majority of the population – the workers.” it said.
The NGO added that “the people are being fed ad nauseam the “strong economic growth in our country” mantra, but there is little attention given to the situation of workers in Malta.” It added, “not everyone is benefiting from this economic growth since the position of workers has been weakened, with power and resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few.”
The NGO stated that “tens of thousands of workers in Malta have to live on very low wages in a context of a high cost-of-living and skyrocketing property and rent prices. To be able to survive and fulfil their basic needs, workers have to work long hours in poor working conditions, with elevated stress-levels and little time for a meaningful life outside their work environment. Moreover, many workers continue to face discrimination, exploitation and precarious conditions at work.”
Moviment Graffitti noted that the number of measures implemented for “the benefit of the rich – such as the transfer of public land to private companies for risible prices, tax refunds for shareholders and privatisation of public entities – contrast sharply with the lack of measures that are of benefit to workers.”
“The minimum wage continues to be set at an extremely low rate and the very recent “increase” of 8 euros per week was actually not an increase in the minimum wage. This ridiculously low increase will only be given to the worker after two years of his/her employment,” it said.
“The minimum wage – the lowest permissible wage by law – has not changed and this measure was simply a PR exercise that will not have any significant impact on workers with low wages. Moreover, rent prices continue to be unregulated, with many workers using the largest chunk of their wage for rent-payment and living under the constant threat of homelessness,” it said.
“The current administration has also failed to restore the leave days for public holidays falling on weekends. In the meantime, extensive privatisation continues to place very important sectors of our economy, such as energy and health, outside democratic control and into the hands of private companies whose sole interest is profit maximisation.”
Moviment Graffitti concluded its statement by saying that it believes that a good economy is one that works for all, not the few. “The current economic model, where private profits take precedence over workers’ rights and the common good, is definitely not working for everyone. We need to fight for a system that distributes resources fairly and that is based on the principles of justice and equality. To achieve this, unity among all workers is key.”
Meanwhile, Zminijietna – Voice of the Left on the occasion of Workers’ Day, stated “that the measures taken by the Government to improve the working conditions of workers in the public sphere, such as those at Wasteserv, ARMS, and the local warden system, from a definite contract to an indefinite contract is highly commendable, as this will strengthen job stability, improve working conditions and ameliorate the living conditions of their families.”
“The fight against precarious jobs should also spread in other sectors of the economy and not only in the public area.” Zminijietna added that it appeals for tax incentives for those companies that mostly employ workers on an indefinite job contracts. “Also the government should introduce legislation against precariousness.”
With regards the minimum wage, Zminijietna said that it is very concerned with the agreement reached between the social partners. “Discrimination in payment should be eliminated, and instead, the entire increase in the minimum wage should be awarded to all minimum-wage earners, irrespective of the amount of years in employment.”