Employment policy will make Malta more competitive – Prime Minister

PM Joseph Muscat says young generation was key for Labour’s landslide victory

Labour leader Joseph Muscat at an event organised by the Labour Youth Forum
Labour leader Joseph Muscat at an event organised by the Labour Youth Forum

The national employment policy launched today will help make Malta’s economy more competitive, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

Addressing the ‘Charge the vote’ activity organised by the Labour Youth Forum in Pembroke, Muscat said the new employment policy would make the labour workforce more flexible.

The national employment policy proposes that maternity leave is paid by the government, minimum-wage earners will receive a top-up by the state and persons with disabilities will be allowed better representation in the working field.

“The maternity leave fund should cut out gender discrimination at the place of work. Only half of around 4,000 working apply for maternity leave every year. It seems like these women are either choosing to stop work or are phased out by their employers,” Muscat said.

In return for government’s financial input, the scheme will see a “small increase” in the social security contribution by employers for both male and female employees.

During his address, Muscat made it a point to praise the contribution of the country’s youngsters. “People always refer to youngsters as the future but that is not quite true,” he said. “You are as much the present as you are the future.”

Describing the young sector of the electorate as a key reason for Labour’s historic result at the general election last year, he said it was this group that will continue to push for social and economic progress.

“Together, we are making the country a mainstream European one,” he said. “We’ve become better than other countries through the policies which we have implemented in just one year.”

“The younger generations want to make this country a modern one, which is very much in line with this government’s reasoning.”

Explaining how merely increasing the minimum wage would have been problematic and unfair on employers due to the competitive nature of the market, the Prime Minister said that through the new employment policy these persons will receive a ‘top-up’ on their salary.

“We are committed to helping those on a minimum wage,” he said. “But we also need to cut out those who are abusing of the unemployment benefit system.”

“We will no longer accept people applying for non-existent jobs such as those of the petrol station pump attendants,” he said, explaining that somewhere in the region of 350 persons apply for a job which only sees a maximum of 10 vacancies annually.