Updated 5.58pm with PN and PL statements

Maltese workers earn less per hour than those in all but four EU countries according to new data published last week.

In a damning indictment of Malta’s salaries, data published by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, shows that workers in Malta earn just €14.20 per hour before tax, less than half the EU-wide average of €31.80.

Only a handful of countries in Europe pay their workers less, with Bulgaria at the bottom of the pile at €9.30 per hour.

Aside from Bulgaria, only workers in Romania, Hungary and Latvia earn less than those in Malta.

The only country in western or central Europe which offers wages similar to Malta’s is Portugal, where workers earn €17 per hour. Workers in nearby Italy, meanwhile, pays its workers double what those in Malta earn, at €29.80 per hour.

On the other end of the scale, Luxembourg tops the table, paying workers a hefty €53.90 hourly wage. Workers in Norway, Iceland and Denmark follow closely behind.

The data includes both wages and social security contributions paid by employers, effectively capturing how much it costs an employer to employ staff.

Wages have improved across Europe since 2016… except in Malta

Even more damningly, Malta’s wages have not budged at all since 2016, dipping as low as €13.20 per hour in 2020 before rising back to €14.20 last year.

The data shows that Maltese wages increased drastically between 2012 and 2016, jumping from just €11.80 per hour to €14.20, but have completely stagnated since.

This means that Malta is the only country where wages haven’t improved at all since 2016.

While 11 countries offered lower wages than Malta back in 2016, seven of them have now overtaken Malta to offer higher wages.

More broadly, wages across the EU increased by just over 5% in 2023.

Malta’s low wages have long been a bone of contention, with the rising cost of living over the past two years raising new concerns over whether people can make ends meet.

A recent report by consultancy firm KPMG found that wage increases were entirely eaten up by inflation, effectively leaving workers worse off in terms of purchasing power.

PN: Proof of a failed system

Reacting to the report, three Opposition MPs said the Eurostat figures were proof that the government's focus on importing cheap foreign labour had failed. 

"This model is damaging other key economic sectors, such as our education, health and infrastructure ones, which are collapsing under the weight of the growing population," said MPs Jerome Caruana Cilia, Ivan J. Bartolo and Ivan Castillo. 

"There is agreement among leading stakeholders and constituted bodies that we need a more sustainable model based on quality rather than quantity, which seeks value-added. We need to improve the country's productivity," they said. 

PL: Salaries have gone up and burdens have been removed

The Labour Party said that under the current government, burdens on workers had been reduced and salaries had gone up.   

It said that recent statistics showed that the income of workers in Malta was not the lowest in the EU but was actually the 12th highest. At the same time the government had removed financial burdens such as childcare and public transport. 

Furthermore, the Eurostat data showed that salaries had continued to increase and the Labour Force Survey for the last quarter of 2023 showed that' since 2016, the average wage was up by 25%.  

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