Should Malta consider a living wage?
Malta has for long been earmarked as having one of the fastest growing economies within the European Union. As wealth and prosperity increase, so does cost of living. For those people who have maintained a low income over the years, their standard of living is likely to have decreased, making them slip into poverty. Couple this existing fact with the economic repercussions of a pandemic and this showcases a significant poverty problem.
With respect to the poverty context currently developing in Malta, the Nationalist party has stated that a national living wage needs to be introduced and therefore would ensure that every person in society has access to a decent life.
Members of Parliament from the Nationalist party including Adrian Delia and Clyde Puli, together with election candidate Graziella Galea emphasised that a new source of pay would be productive against the battle of poverty. In their proposal, there was no indication of the amount that should be allocated for this living wage.
Whilst this proposal is indeed worthy of consideration, the amount on a monthly basis needs to be established based on accurate data.
As it stands, the minimum wage applicable for all full-time employees who are over eighteen years of age is EUR 179.33 per week. Many may argue that in view of the rising cost of living, coupled with the expenses of accommodation, be it both to own a property or rent, it can be quite a struggle to keep up. This may lead to several people living below the standards of a decent life, with struggles to acquire food and proper clothing.
This proposal being partly spearheaded by Adrian Delia was discussed in his first conference after him no longer being at the helm of the Nationalist party. He implored for the input of government, society and stakeholders for a desirable outcome.
Clyde Puli also discussed the notion of poverty and highlighted that education holds a key role in fighting it. He directed his criticism towards government for failing to come up with long-term plans during the course of this pandemic.
Election candidate Graziella Galea stated that poverty is an existing problem and the number of people who find themselves in this vicious circle continues to increase. She emphasised that within the current Maltese society, the rich are becoming richer whilst those who are poor are becoming poorer. She also cited that the struggles of those who are vulnerable within society continue to grow.
The Nationalist party also recommended that the government launches a Poverty Watch Unit to support those who are economically vulnerable.