Minimum wage earners should receive income top-ups depending on their family setup, social justice NGOs have argued in feedback on new EU legislation that Malta must adopt.
“We cannot have a one-size-fits-all system. What is adequate for a single person is not adequate to a person with children,” the Anti-Poverty Forum said.
EU member states agreed last month to introduce a new minimum wage directive that seeks to ensure adequate minimum wages and strengthen collective bargaining across the 27-member bloc.
Among other things, the directive states that member states must evaluate minimum wages according to a set of stable and clear criteria and update them “in a regular and timely manner.”
Member states will have two years to implement the directive once it is passed by MEPs – a stage expected to be a formality – in September. Malta’s minimum wage currently stands at €182.83 per week – an amount that poverty reports have indicated is not enough to ensure a decent standard of living.
In its statement, APF Malta said that while Malta should introduce a basic “adequate” minimum wage, in line with the EU directive,” different family set-ups had different needs.
While the EU directive is focused on ensuring adequate income for workers, APF Malta noted that other social groups, most notably pensioners, also risked being left behind by society.
“Malta should start working on an Adequate Minimum Income as opposed to Adequate Minimum Wage,” it argued. The NGO forum also urged the government to do its utmost to increase people’s purchasing power, noting that inflation could nullify the impact of raising wages.
“It is useless to increase the minimum wage if prices continue to rise,” the forum said as it called for the government to conduct a reference budget and annual household budgetary survey to ensure it kept a close eye on the cost of living.
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