Moviment Graffitti laments lack of budgetary policies on wages, rent and transport

The NGO also acknowledged a number of positive measures, and welcomed policies on social housing, property and recycling 

The budget lacked urgent measures to regulate the rental market and address the urgent problem, Moviment Graffitti said
The budget lacked urgent measures to regulate the rental market and address the urgent problem, Moviment Graffitti said

Measures to address low wages were conspicuously absent for Budget 2018, Movement Graffitti said in a statement today.

The NGO said that contrary to what was reported, there has not been any increase in the minimum wage. Moreover, it said the budget only made a reference to an agreement between unions and employers, which had been concluded this year, which will give a “ridiculously low” €6 per week increase to minimum wage earners after two years of employment.

The group reiterated that it was in favour of an 11% increase in minimum wage over three years, something which it said would benefit all employees earning low wages.

It said that measures targeted at improving social housing, investing in schools and addressing the abandoned property problem were positive, as were the recycling and plastic bottles measures. The €2 per week increase for pensioners was “nominal, but welcome nonetheless.”

While the additional day of vacation leave was good, the group noted that it did not live up to Labour’s promise of returning to workers all public holidays which fall on weekends.

It also criticised the squandering of public money for the private profits of Vitalis Global Healthcare and Barts Medical School, and said that this constituted the privatisation of parts of our healthcare system, hidden behind so-called investment in health.

Welcoming the announcement of a White Paper on rent regulation, Graffitti said that concrete action had to be taken to address the rent “emergency”, since thousands of workers could not afford exorbitant rent prices. This was not adequately dealt with in the budget, and many workers would continue to use a large percentage of their wage for rent-payments, leaving them under a constant threat of homelessness. The group therefore was advocating for more regulation of the market, and for rules on rent contracts and prices.

Additionally, the public transport system was in need of fixing, with urgent, serious investment necessary to improve the limited and unreliable service. It recommended that the government place public transport under its control if the private operator was not willing to carry out the necessary changes.