The General Workers' Union has appealed to the government to give workers back all public holidays which fell on a weekend, a measure that had been removed by the previous legislature.

Presenting the GWU’s 2017 budget proposals, GWU general secretary Josef Bugeja said the removal of public holidays falling on weekends from workers’ vacation leave was only meant to be a “temporary” measure.

These holidays should be given back to workers, Mr Bugeja argued, even if the measure is introduced in a gradual manner.

He proposed that workers on a minimum wage should be given a subsidy by the government.

Workers on a minimum wage should be given a subsidy by the government

Mr Bugeja said this should be done instead of raising the minimum wage and putting pressure on increases further up the pay scale.

By giving this payment, which would be separate from the cost of living adjustment, Mr Bugeja said those on the minimum wage would be able to live a decent quality of life.

He spoke of fears that a new class of “working poor” would be created if no action was taken.

He called for in-depth studies on the advantages and pitfalls of a living wage system before any action was taken. 

The GWU is also suggesting subsidies on rents for low income earners. Mr Bugeja insisted that everyone should be able to afford decent accommodation.

The GWU called for the equal treatment of temporary workers and those employed directly at their workplace.

Many employees use temporary workers to save on costs, he said. He insisted that temporary workers should enjoy the same working conditions as other employees doing the same job in the workplace.

The government was also asked by the GWU to introduce a special medical leave for cancer patients.

It suggested that in certain cases cancer suffers should be allowed a suspension of their mortgage payments during that difficult period in their lives.