UHM proposes compensation for ‘missed’ public holidays

Calls on government to ensure that budget is one that sees country’s economic performance translated into tangible benefits to workers and society in general

Union officials at this morning's meeting
Union officials at this morning's meeting

Union Haddiema Maghqudin (UHM), together with the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions (CMTU) and the Malta Police Association (MPA), this morning put forward a number of proposals to the government for the upcoming budget.

Among the proposals that the union put forward is the introduction of compensation, which would be added to the annual government bonus, for ‘missed’ public holidays. Union CEO, Josef Vella, said that this proposal would “have a positive impact because it adds to worker’s income which will result in increased spending, while not having a negative impact on productivity.”

Vella also said that the union is in favour of the introduction of a living wage that would serve to guide collective agreement negotiations as well social policy decisions.  A living wage, the union said, would provide an income that is representative of families expenses.

UHM also stressed the importance of having available the results from the household budgetary survey.

“Inflation is still low when you consider the economic growth we’ve experienced in last few years, however it is being calculated using out-dated figures. It almost seems like the government is intentionally dragging its feet in releasing these results in order to keep inflation figures low.”

The union expressed concern with economy’s dependency on one time projects or short-term projects such as the construction of the power station as well as the IIP program. 

Moreover, with respect to housing, Vella noted that rent prices are increasing due to an influx for foreign workers however he said that UHM doesn’t agree with capping rent although “it is necessary to evaluate the property market to prepare policy that takes into account a growing population.

Vella also insisted that more needs to be done to get cars off the road since despite an increase in use of public transport, the number of cars on the road is also increasing.

A number of proposals were also put forward regarding Gozo namely measures to tackle the brain drain problem in Gozo by offering small business incentives, investment in the Xewkija industrial estate as well as increased funding for statistics specific to Gozo.

The CMTU echoed many of the concerns brought up by the UHM such as the need for an increased diversification of the economy and finding a balance in construction.

The confederation stressed the importance of good governance in public procurement insisting that government contracts should be deposited in parliament so that they can be available for all to inspect. Moreover, in accordance with EC guidelines, shell companies and the use of fiduciaries where the identity of the investors is not known should be prohibited from bidding for public contracts.

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