Unions present united front on cost of living mechanism in exceptional circumstances

Unions want meeting with government on workings of COLA mechanism in exceptional circumstances • The cost-of-living adjustment for Budget 2023 expected to be around €10, the highest it has ever been

The unions said that the current mechanism does not address anomalies that could lead to issues in a few years' time
The unions said that the current mechanism does not address anomalies that could lead to issues in a few years' time

Unions are presenting a united front on how the cost of living adjustment should be applied in exceptional circumstances such as the current situation.

The Forum of Maltese Unions, General Workers Union, the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions, together with UHM Voice of the Workers have requested a meeting with Finance Minister Clyde Caruana to discuss their proposal.

In a statement on Tuesday, the unions said that this initiative was being taken in light of the current unprecedented situation that led to a “record” COLA increase of around €10 in the next budget. The unions' proposal was not unveiled.

“These unions which together represent thousands of workers will be coming together as one front to present a proposal through which the COLA mechanism will be able to address such circumstances, whilst ensuring that justice is done in the interest of the workers and employers,” the unions said.

They added that their proposal would be addressing anomalies that if not addressed would lead to issues in a few years’ time. The unions said that the proposal was being made with “responsibility” towards their members and to safeguard the sustainability of jobs.

“We look forward to sitting around a table as soon as possible so that we could address this challenge together,” the unions concluded.

Caruana said the cost of living adjustment would stand at around €10 per week in view of rising inflation fuelled by a combination of international factors, primarily the war in Ukraine. However, inflation in Malta remains below the EU average because government is subsidising energy and fuel to keep prices stable. Without the subsidies, the COLA could be as high as €25 per week.

When unveiling the pre-budget document last week, Caruana said subsidies to keep the prices of electricity, household gas, fuel and cereals stable will cost public coffers €470 million this year and more than €600 million in 2023.

The Malta Employers Association had stated that COLA should be capped at €6 for the next five years, arguing that €10 would negatively impact businesses.