Skyrocketing prices and the ever-rising cost of living make it crucial for the government to review Malta’s minimum wage, the ADPD has said.
“Those earning a minimum wage are clearly the poor. Government must not delay any longer to review how the minimum wage is calculated,” said the Green Party’s chairperson Carmel Cacopardo.
“Minimum wages can be considered adequate when they are fair vis-à-vis the wages of other workers and when they provide a decent standard of living, taking into account general economic conditions in the country,” he said.
Malta's minimum wage is of €181 per week and was last increased, apart from yearly COLA increases, in 2017.
Inflation rates in recent months have reached highs not seen in years, rising to 2.38 per cent in November 2021 when compared to 0.27 per cent in the same month the previous year.
As a result, prices of staple products such as bread, milk and butter have risen dramatically.
ADPD deputy secretary-general Sandra Gauci noted that the squeeze will be especially damaging to lower-income earners, who struggle to fulfil their basic needs with their existing income.
She noted that while the government had little control over price increases imposed from abroad, it had tools at its disposal.
Gauci suggested revising the cost-of-living-adjustment mechanism to include more relevant items, such as face masks and the cost of IT items, while removing less relevant ones such as cigarettes.
Her party leader, Cacopardo, agreed with her and warned that the basket of goods being used to calculate the COLA was “out of tune” and no longer reflected reality.
A promise to revise the COLA, made last November, had not resulted in any change, he noted, and Malta was among the countries opposing an EU directive that would introduce a framework for mandatory minimum wages.
Cacopardo noted that a Caristas study had found that a family of four would need a minimum of €14,000 a year at 2020 prices to get by – approximately €4,000 over and above the actual minimum wage.
“In simple language this means that the minimum wage, at 2020 prices, is 40% below the minimum threshold of a decent wage. Those earning a minimum wage are clearly the working poor. The minimum wage is not a living wage,” he said.
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