Minimum wage increase was ‘public relations exercise’ – Moviment Graffitti

Activist group Moviment Graffitti has said that the current economic model give precedence to private profits rather than 'workers’ rights and the common good'

Moviment Graffitti commemorated Workers’ Day by placing a banner in front of the Workers’ Monument in Msida reading 'Riches given to the wealthy… 8 peanuts given to workers'
Moviment Graffitti commemorated Workers’ Day by placing a banner in front of the Workers’ Monument in Msida reading 'Riches given to the wealthy… 8 peanuts given to workers'

Activist group Moviment Graffitti has criticised the €8 a week increase in minimum wage, saying that “little attention” is being given to the situation of workers.

Commemorating Workers’ Day by having activists place a banner in front of the Workers’ Monument in Msida reading 'Riches given to the wealthy… 8 peanuts given to workers', Moviment Graffitti today claimed that the economic policies being pursued are made to measure for the wealthy few and disadvantageous to workers.

The group condemned the minimum wage for being “at an extremely low rate” despite the announcement that an €8 a week increase will be implemented by 2019.

The deal was formally signed by the government, opposition and social partners on Friday. Minimum wage earners will be automatically entitled to a €3 weekly increase upon completion of the first year of employment with the same employer, and a further €3 weekly upon completion of the second year.

Calling it a “ridiculously low increase”, Moviment Graffitti said that the fact that the agreement will not come into effect before two years means that the minimum wage has not actually increased.

“The minimum wage – the lowest permissible wage by law – has not changed and this measure was simply a PR exercise that will not have any significant impact on workers with low wages,” the group said.

It also noted that measures such as the transfer of public land to private companies for risible prices, tax refunds for shareholders and privatisation of public entities, contrasted sharply with the lack of measures that are of benefit to workers.

“Rent prices continue to be unregulated, with many workers using the largest chunk of their wage for rent-payment and living under the constant threat of homelessness. The current administration has also failed to restore the leave days for public holidays falling on weekends. In the meantime, extensive privatisation continues to place very important sectors of our economy, such as energy and health, outside democratic control and into the hands of private companies whose sole interest is profit maximisation.”

The group added: “To be able to survive and fulfill their basic needs, workers have to work long hours in poor working conditions, with elevated stress-levels and little time for a meaningful life outside their work environment. Moreover, many workers continue to face discrimination, exploitation and precarious conditions at work.”

Moviment Graffitti said that while “strong economic growth” has become a mantra, “there is little attention given to the situation of workers.”

“Not everyone is benefiting from this economic growth since the position of workers has been weakened, with power and resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few.”

Moviment Graffitti claimed that the current economic model places private profits ahead of workers’ rights and the common good. It urged for unity among workers in order to “fight for a system that distributes resources fairly and that is based on the principles of justice and equality.”

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