Over 65,000 Maltese workers could not afford a holiday in 2020

Percentage of Maltese workers who could not afford a hotel increased from 25% to 27%

File photo
File photo

65,324 workers during the COVID year of 2020 could not afford to get away on a holiday for a whole week, Eurostat data released by the European Trade Union Confederation shows.

Malta was one of 11 EU member states in which the percentage of workers who could not afford a holiday increased between 2019 and 2020, a period which coincided with the pandemic.

Although statistics are not yet available for 2021 and 2022, ETUC has warned the current cost of living crisis is expected to further increase holiday poverty in Europe in a context where increasing numbers are struggling to make ends meet and putting holidays even further out of reach. “Holiday poverty is highly likely to become even worse as a result of the cost-of-living crisis and inflation, underlining the need for workers across Europe to receive a decent pay rise this summer.”

Malta has so far been spared the hike in energy prices with the government absorbing the extra costs, but not from that of food prices.

The figures are based on an analysis of Eurostat ‘microdata’, which is not publicly available, by the European Trade Union Institute, the independent research centre of the ETUC. The total number of workers unable to afford a holiday was calculated by the ETUI, based on the percentages provided by Eurostat.

ETUC estimates that 38 million people currently cannot afford a holiday of a week or more in the EU.

Romania, Greece and Lithuania have the highest share of workers unable to get away for a week. Italy (8m) , Spain (4.6m) and France (4.1m) have the highest number of workers missing out on a break for financial reasons.

Eurostat data published a year ago also showed that in 2019, 55% of all Maltese at risk of poverty could not afford a week-long holiday compared to 26% of those not at risk of poverty who could not afford that same holiday.

ETUC argues that holidays should not be considered to be a luxury. “Holidays are an important part of ensuring the health and wellbeing of workers, but couldn’t seem further away for many people struggling to simply put food on the table and pay the rent amid the cost-of-living crisis.”

Moreover the increase in holiday poverty coincided with greater profit retention in companies which saw executives and shareholders hoarding more money among themselves to the detriment of workers. This claim is substantiated by profit share statistics issued by Eurostat which do not cover Malta.

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch warned that “without a fair pay rise, employers and politicians will find they return from their own summer holidays to face an autumn of anger followed by a winter of discontent.”