[WATCH] Prime Minister wants Malta where minimum wage enough to support a family

Joseph Muscat said his government was working to ensure that the next generation achieved more than their parents ever did

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that he has a vision of a Malta where, unlike the present, the minimum wage is enough for one to support a family.

“We want to concept of a minimum wage to remain, but there are two things we want for the next generation,” Muscat told party supporters on Thursday. “We want the minimum wage to be high enough for one to support a family, but we also want it to be there only on paper because nobody is on the minimum wage.”

Muscat was speaking at a political activity in Paola, where he insisted that his vision wasn’t simply a dream but something that was achievable if the current rate of progress was maintained.   

The government, he said, had worked to bring investment to Malta, not because it wanted to flaunt statistics, but rather because it understood that work was necessary for people to earn a living.

He said, however, that foreign investment was simply a means to an end, that of allowing the next generation to have a better life than their parents did. Muscat said that many people could relate to having parents that came from humble beginnings, who had worked their whole life in the hope that their children might be the first in the family to finish their education or get a degree.

“We can’t be happy to have our children arrive where we have. This can only be the starting point for our children, they must achieve a lot more than we did.”

The Labour Party, he said, had been the party to introduce the minimum wage in Malta, however it was the Nationalist Party that allowed it to become inadequate.

In 25 years the PN had don't nothing to increase the minimum wage, allowing it to go from a wage that was enough to get by, to one that was irrelevant. 

“Not only did we do what others didn’t do, and what others weakened, but we also started to give it strength once again,” he said, adding that his administration had been the one to bring all the country’s social partners together to increase the minimum wage for the first time in many years.

Under the agreement signed two years, minimum wage earners who have completed their first year of employment will be entitled to a mandatory €3 per week increase in the second year and another equivalent increase in the third. Muscat acknowledged however that this wasn’t enough, but stressed that this was due to the PN’s inaction in the past.

“We made it law,” Muscat said of the increase. “Since we can’t rely on others, and since the Labour Party won’t be around forever, the country can’t afford to have to wait for a Labour government to increase the minimum wage. So we tied whoever is in government to have to revise the minimum wage every five years.” 

In addition to increasing the minimum wage, he said the country had also seen the median income increase at a rate faster than inflation, with pensions having been increased for six years in a row, and poverty down by a half. 

Speaking ahead of the Prime Minister, deputy leader Chris Cardona said that rather than Muscat, it was Adrian Delia who needed to press the panic button, especially when considering the fact that David Casa, the PN’s “star candidate” in the upcoming elections, wasn’t even willing to include Delia in his campaign photos. 

He said the Labour Party would continue working for the good of the Maltese people, irrespective of who they were or what they believed in.

The government, he said, was one that had worked hard and accomplished a lot. “Few governments have had the energy to work like this government. This is a government that is as hard-working as the Maltese people.”

Cardona said government would never attack the Opposition for its constructive criticism, but would rather look to listen and learn.

Ultimately, he said that next week's election was one in which the nation would have to choose between those trying to instil fear and the Labour Party, which he said was offering hope.