The minimum wage will increase by €8 per week by 2019, according to an agreement that will be signed tomorrow.

The increase, over and above the cost of living adjustment, will equate to more than €400 per year in two year's time, journalists were told a briefing this morning with the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development.

The upward adjustment is half of what social campaigners led by Caritas have been asking for.

Read: Increasing minimum wage by €80 a month 'won't break economy'

Just under 4,000 currently receive the minimum wage, which is €736 a month.

Economist Gordon Cordina, who carried out the studies that informed the agreement, said the increase was the furthest the social partners could go for without endangering the country’s competitiveness and jobs.

He said the increase would not address poverty in its entirety, adding that other measures would have to be taken to target certain pockets.

MCESD chairman John Bencini said the social partners held some 20 meetings over the span of a few months to hammer out this agreement. He said it was important that it also enjoyed political consensus.

Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli noted that the agreement would unfreeze the minimum wage, which has remained the same for 27 years.

The minimum wage increases every year, like all other wages, with the cost of living adjustment. However, what poverty campaigners have been asking for is a distinct adjustment to increase the minimum wage.

The agreement does deliver on this but falls short of their expectations.

The agreement will be signed by the social partners, the government and the Opposition.

What the agreement entails:

* Minimum wage earners who have completed first year of employment will be entitled to mandatory €3 per week increase in second year and another €3 per week in the third year.

* These increases are over and above annual COLA increases

* Increases will be backdated to January 1 2017 for those who have completed first year of employment.

* Employees earning more than basic minimum wage will also get proportional increases in the second and third year of employment to put them on the same level as the new minimum wage.

* COLA increases for 2018 and 2019 will be boosted by a temporary supplement of €1 per week. All workers will benefit from this temporary boost.

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