In response to these figures, the General Secretary of the General Workers Union (GWU), Josef Bugeja, first stated that this table must be further analysed to understand and determine in which sectors low-paid jobs are offered, that is, in which sector of the Maltese economy these workers are working.
“We want to see which sectors pay the best wages and which pay the lowest wages. The hotel and restaurant sector, the service sector, the construction sector, the cleaning sector and the manufacturing sector offer low wages. We need to ask ourselves if workers in the low-wage sector are using subcontractors. As GWU, we have always emphasised that education is the weapon you can use to increase your salary. That’s why we have always advocated for our members to upgrade their skills and competencies. The more workers improve their skills, the greater their chance for social mobility,” explains Bugeja.
GWU believes that many workers are offered employment with subcontractors instead of being employed directly on the job. He claims that “it is good to consider that these private contractors receive a basic remuneration according to the law, without any other benefits. That is why GWU has made several proposals to extend the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. For this reason, in the last budget we also made the proposal to limit the number of temporary workers per job.
In addition, this largest workers’ union in Malta will continue to advocate for automatic membership in a union of its own choosing. Bugeja explained that its members earn more and, where they are covered by a collective agreement, have other benefits beyond what the law provides. “Even construction workers are joining the union today. That’s because they know it’s a natural home for workers, and they know that partnership means better wages and working conditions,” the GWU general secretary added.
GWU study: the income of families for a decent life
It is good to remember that last year the GWU conducted a study on the National Living Income to calculate what the income of different types of families should be so that they can live a decent life. Bugeja told us that this study has been completed and published and will now be distributed to the social partners and MCESD, to the government and even to the opposition.
Josef Bugeja concluded by saying that the Low Wage Commission, established in 2017, must present its first report this year so that we can see how the national minimum wage should be increased.