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“Crucially, the commission will present the recommendations by the end of the year”

When we talk about the minimum wage agreement, it is not only about the value that the minimum wage should have, but also the composition of how it is calculated. The General Secretary of the General Workers’ Union, Josef Bugeja, explained this to L-Orizzont after the official establishment of the Low Wage Commission, whose goal is to make recommendations to the government by the end of the year for a review of the minimum wage in our country.

Bugeja said that the first principle of the commission should be to discuss the value of the minimum wage and whether it is sufficient to provide a decent life, but several factors should also be taken into account, including whether it should always remain linked to inflation, whether it should bring in productivity, if the collective agreements signed by the unions are available, they will be included in the calculation, so that the discrepancies between unionised and non-unionised workplaces are avoided and no one is left behind.

The GWU secretary said that in addition to raising the minimum wage, wages that are low despite the minimum wage should be raised in proportion if there is a need and necessity.

“When the minimum wage is increased, it affects other wages that are a little higher, and our discussion has always been that this goes beyond the compensation that is given for what has already been agreed upon or agreed upon in the collective bargaining agreement,” Bugeja explained.

He recalled that in 2017 the General Workers’ Union was one of the protagonists when an agreement was reached between the government and the opposition to increase the minimum wage for three consecutive years. This increase had come after 27 years, and therefore the idea of the agreement was not to let so many years pass to review it without the cost of living.

So the idea was to set up a commission on the minimum wage or, as we know better, low wages. Discussions ran until Tuesday, when the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Dialogue, Andy Ellul, announced the legal notice with the official establishment, giving this commission a legal identity to start working now, because by the end of the year the first opinion of the same commission on the minimum wage must be issued.