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Mental health, affordable property and banking in Malta…

Discussed at the meeting with the candidate for the EP elections Marija Sara Vella
Gafa at GWU

During a visit to the General Workers’ Union (GWU) by Marija Sara Vella Gafa,
candidate for the European Parliament elections, several key issues in our country
were discussed, particularly those affecting workers in Malta, including mental health
and the lack of knowledge about it, the need for more financial education, affordable
property and banking in Malta.

Once the discussion on mental health, especially in the workplace, began, Marija
Sara Vella Gafa thanked this union for not only offering a support service for mental
health issues to its workers, but also for promoting mental health in every workplace,
even when it comes to negotiating a collective labour agreement.

“In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to have someone who
knows about this sensitive issue and who you can turn to when you feel the need,”
said Vella Gafa.

The General Secretary of the GWU, Josef Bugeja, said that this union is so
committed to the well-being of workers as a whole that it has come up with the idea
of offering a mental health therapy service to its workers themselves, as they are the first people who are confronted with the various situations and problems of its
members on a daily basis.

In addition, the section secretaries have been trained as mental health first aiders so
that they can recognise certain signs of mental health. This is the only way we can
help both management and the employees we represent.

In terms of financial education, it was discussed that students need to be more
informed and educated about finances from an early age so that they know how to
best utilise and allocate their money. In this context, the voluntary private pension
scheme was mentioned. While the government continues to provide pensions,
people should remember to put some money aside when they enter the world of
work so that they do not have a big difference in financial income when they retire.
The accessibility of banks and financial services in our villages and localities was
also discussed here, especially for older people.

The Secretary General pointed out the problems faced by workers from third
countries when they want to open an account with one of the banks in Malta in order
to receive their salary.

Regarding the situation on affordable property, Marija Sara Vella Gafa stated that
she feels and hears from people that more affordable property is needed in our
country as there is a problem.

She noted that there is a lack of knowledge about sustainable construction and that
more support services are needed for those in need, among whom she mentioned
people with autism.

The Secretary General explained that the GWU is currently in talks with the
Affordable Housing Foundation to support the work of this social foundation which
aims to help Maltese residents who want to become owners of their homes or rent
them at reasonable prices.

They also discussed education in schools, including the vision of reopening
vocational schools, remote working, the right to segregation and foreign workers in
our country.