“Crucial for the government is to reach a consensus that promotes inclusive
growth.”- GWU Secretary General Josef Bugeja
“We are in an era of great global uncertainty, where the government faces critical
decisions that will decisively shape the path our country will take. This budget should
serve as a reflection of our priorities, values, and commitment to the greater good of
society. It is critical that the government reach a consensus that promotes inclusive
growth, social justice and long-term sustainability”.
This was said yesterday by the General Secretary of the General Workers’ Union,
Josef Bugeja, when he presented GWU’s proposals for the 2024 budget. This
document, which is divided into several sections, first provides an overview of the
economic situation and the – challenges facing the country.
One of the proposals listed in this document concerns a mechanism to stabilize
prices, especially food prices. The GWU proposes that entrepreneurs and stores that
import food should receive low-interest loans from the Malta Development Bank, with
the condition that they do not change their prices for one year.
one proposal GWU insists on is the need to continue to absorb price differentials in
energy, fuels and grains. “We believe that if we are to continue to recover quickly
and keep inflation under control, it is imperative that the government continues to
pay this differential,” the GWU general secretary reiterated.
The GWU made several proposals on the tourism sector and the need to introduce
skills cards for occupations to help bring more young people into the sector and
improve their skills and competencies. The GWU talks about new niches of tourism,
including religious, so that the quality of tourists is diversified.
The GWU has also put forward specific proposals on mental health, the new world of
work and technological progress. The union proposes to set up an innovation fund
and to look at how best to balance the world of work with the private time of
The GWU also talks about the need to create a more inclusive society in the
workplace. There is a need to ensure that there is no discrimination. The GWU also
proposes the review and updating of current employment and industrial relations
laws to reflect an ever-changing economy.
Other proposals include the introduction of a new legal framework for tele- and
distance working, that any work done on Sundays be remunerated at double the
hourly rate, regardless of sector, and that there be a first aider specialising in mental
health in every workplace.
It is also proposed that the amount of social security contributions payable be
calculated from the age of 16. Currently they are not taken into account between the
ages of 16 and 18.
This, while the state pension of all officers in the disciplined armed forces will be
increased by COLA every year from 2024 and adjusted according to the collective
agreement and the basic salary of the grade and scale in which the employee was
on the day before retirement.
The GWU said that it is satisfied that the government has introduced two measures,
the increase in pension by 23% for those who continue to serve in the disciplined
bodies after 25 years of service and for those who remain after 29 years of service,
the provision of 50% of basic salary for four years and the other measure of pension
for five years for the widows of officers of the disciplinary corps who die before
completing 25 years of service or during the period between the end of service and
Another proposal is that fixed contracts, if not renewed and a vacancy is created
again, will be entitled to that post. It is also proposed that there be a mental health
first aider in every workplace in addition to the first aider.
The principle of equal pay for work of equal value is also mentioned. Temporary
workers or a cap on the number of temporary workers in a workplace.
The benefits for continuous personal development. Other suggestions include the
- The tax rate for overtime should be extended to allowances and the €10,000 cap
should be removed.
- Childcare facilities and medical clinics in industrial zones.
- COLA – Cost-of-living adjustments and deferring tax benefits so that COLA is not
- Flexible working arrangements. Performance bonuses and commissions to be
taken into account for stamp duty purposes and then also for pension purposes.
- Insurance of the employee in the event of an accident, especially on construction
sites and during work that is considered dangerous.
- Automatic membership in a trade union of your choice.
- The regularisation of work permits.
- The importance of the National Council for Qualifications to start calculating
workers’ experience, skills and competencies.
- A special paid sick leave for women who experience a miscarriage. This
compassionate sick leave aims to provide support during this difficult and
challenging time of loss and recognise the emotional and physical toll that the
mother must take.
- Continue to address the injustices of the past, such as the cases of the former Gas
Authority workers and Verdala.
- Continue the compensation scheme for asbestos-related diseases and deaths.
National Living Wage should be put on the national agenda.
Second COLA mechanism.
Minimum and low wage discussions.
Justice System – Excessive delay leads to justice deferred being justice denied.
GWU calls for the introduction of a reasonable but rigid time frame for deciding
“It is important to address the problem of delayed cases in our courts. There should
also be an increased budget for investment in technological systems, efficiency,
accountability, digitisation and human resources within the judiciary.”
Recent studies show that people on the minimum wage are excluded from the
property market. Therefore, GWU proposes that the government provide a subsidy
of 75% of the rent to these people.
It also proposes to extend the Equity Scheme to people under 30 years of age. The
strengthening of pensions should continue and the anomaly of those born before and
after 1962 should be removed.
- Continue and further intensify work so that every euro in social contributions is
collected by the government.
- More incentives for more workers to set up both individual and collective private
- Active seniority – Flexible working for people between 61 and 65.
- Measures for people with disabilities to enter the workforce and be assessed if they
Youth and education
Education is the foundation for the development and economic growth of a society.
In essence, no country can achieve sustainable economic development without
significant investment in human resources. Education is a direct investment in
improving the quality of life.
GWU proposes an increase in grants or soft loans for young entrepreneurs to
encourage innovative start-ups and small businesses that can drive economic
growth and job creation.
Increase grants for young people to participate in sports programmes.
School curricula must reflect today’s reality and be adapted to the demands of the
new world of work.
It is certainly important to recognise the great responsibility and workload that
teachers have. Therefore, in order to encourage more people to turn to this work,
GWU proposes an increase and better benefits, such as professional development
opportunities, workload sharing and general support for educators.
Free breakfast, 3-16 club and summer school should be compulsory for all schools,
including public schools.
Physical activity and nutrition education should be an integral part of the curriculum
The curriculum should also focus on transversal skills.
There is an urgent need for skilled labour. The need for skilled labour is felt in all
sectors of the economy. Therefore, we propose the opening of vocational schools.
- Enforcement of existing laws regarding buildings, noise and air pollution.
• Skills card for construction workers.
- We protect the aesthetics of our cities and the ODZ.
- We protect the water in the water table.
- Compensating businesses and families when a road is removed and this takes
- More punctual and frequent public transport. This leads to it being used more.
- Alternative means of mass transport, especially by sea.
- Green economy – Sustainable investment, training for workers who will be affected
by the transition.
- Alternative use of hydrogen as a fuel.
- Investment in essential infrastructure such as distribution of light and the sanitation
- Programmes for families to adapt a water purifier to reduce dependence on plastic
- Education campaign on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles.
GWU agrees with the policy initiated by the Government for Gozo.
“We believe in the preservation of Gozo’s special features and the conservation of its
- Villa Rundle should be given the highest priority.
- Expansion of the park next to the Gozo Stadium
- The open space near the lighthouse in Għasri should be beautified and made
accessible to the public.
- Priority should be given to the completion of the Rabat Gozo Health Centre and the
reconstruction of the Gozo General Hospital.
GWU – Building a Better Future