Restrict influx of non-EU nationals to highly qualified persons, UHM suggests

The Union Haddiema Maghqudin put forward a number of proposals to address the current downward pressure on wages, after a study found that Malta registered the lowest minimum wage increase in the EU

To help address the downward pressure on wages caused by foreign workers, UHM has suggested limiting the influx of third-country nationals to highly qualified persons
To help address the downward pressure on wages caused by foreign workers, UHM has suggested limiting the influx of third-country nationals to highly qualified persons

The Union Haddiema Maghqudin is suggesting that the influx of third country citizens to Malta be limited to highly qualified and technically competent people, to help enhance Malta’s productivity and address the current downward pressure on wages.

The union was reacting to a recent study by Eurofound on minimum wages in the EU, which found that Malta had registered the lowest minimum wage increase amongst member states.

In a press statement, UHM noted that Malta’s minimum wage had increased following the 2017 agreement - according to which the minimum wage should rise by €8 per week by 2019 - and the COLA, however it said that the increases do not reflect as of yet the agreed methodology whereby, in 2020, a commission had to be set up to propose a new minimum wage based on collective agreements.

Highlighting that the creation of the commission is an important part of the agreement, since it would be setting the minimum wage in relation to collective agreements in specific sector, the union urged the government to implement this requirement of the 2017 agreement.

The union went on to note that “unlike Spain and Portugal, the influx of third country citizens in Malta's labour market is creating enormous downward wage pressures”.

“Though there are officially around 4,000 on a minimum wage, this is not representing the reality on the ground since there is an increasing number of third country citizens earning either below or close to minimum wage,” it said.

“Because of this we are not surprised that the EU average minimum wage (€924) is considerably higher than the minimum wage earned in Malta (€762) though one must allow for the effect of what is termed as Purchasing Power Parity which enables a 'like for like' comparison.”

As things stand, it said, Malta has the highest proportion of foreign workers, with an increasing number of third country citizens, in its labour market across the EU.

“This influx is taking place in the space of a few years unlike say Luxembourg where the influx of mainly EU citizens occurred over a much longer span of years. The increase in the labour supply clearly impacts wage setting,” it added.

UHM also underlined that Maltese and non-Maltese workers should be encouraged to join trade unions, and that compensation levels across all sectors should keep up with profits.

“This too can be addressed if workers in sectors such as catering and construction join trade unions,” UHM said.

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