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Inferior conditions of work becoming common – AD

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Inferior conditions of work becoming common - ADAlternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party, spoke this morning in front of the Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family and said that workers’ day should not simply be a day of nostalgia and partisan propaganda, but should be a reflection on sustainable policies to for more social justice at the place of work.

AD Secretary General Ralph Cassar said, “AD believes that there can be a just and sustainable balance between social, environmental and economic factors.”

“As a member of the European Greens, we believe that Malta and the EU should adopt the ‘Green New Deal’ for the creation of stable job opportunities in sectors such as alternative energy, public transport, waste management, information technology, tourism agriculture and other sectors through which we can have a better environment.”

‘The Green New Deal should be given due importance especially since new opportunities are coming around in areas such as the production of solar panels. If the EU and Malta do not rise to the occasion, other parts of the world will do so, probably with inferior working conditions.”

“We also believe in the increase of the minimum wage in Malta, especially since the current rate is not realistic when compared to the cost of living. This increase should also be reflected in the hourly rate of part-time employment. We disagree with the Prime Minister and with business interests who say that this will decrease our country’s competitiveness.”

“Competitiveness depends on various other factors too, including productivity and costs which companies have to pay because of bad administration, inefficiencies and bad practices of the Government. Besides, Malta should not compete in a race to the bottom. It should aim to reach levels of other EU member-states which have managed to be competitive, productive and socially just at the same time.”

“Government and the social partners should also show more determination in combating precarious employment, which is increasing amongst various categories of workers with different skills, experiences and qualifications. Examples of this are the increase in employment on fixed contracts and the increase of workers registered as self-employed who are selling their services to one contractor, such as the Government or an employer. Whilst it is true that there are workers who choose part-time employment because of other priorities in life, one should not accept that workers are not being entitled their rights because of the ‘competitiveness’ excuse. In this regard, the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations should be given more power to investigate cases of exploitation at work.”

“It is simply unacceptable that workers are forced to work overtime against their will, and in this regard we generally agree with the implementation of the Working Time Directive within the EU, which establishes a maximum number of working hours, with the intention of having less exploitation at work and creating new job opportunities for unemployed workers.”

“AD is also proposing the creation of indicators that give value to unpaid work such as housework, voluntary work and caring for vulnerable persons. It would be positive if Government introduces fiscal policy and inclusive measure that reward persons involved in such work, which is essential for society.”

“It would also be positive if the sensibility of ETC with regard to training programmes for different categories of workers (ageing, youth, etc..) is also shown in other Governmental social policies related to work.”

“Other issues which should be emphasised is the need for more enforcement on workers’ health and safety, the need for having a moratorium (for a limited period) on loan payments for people who lose their job, and the introduce a basic income scheme (for a limited period) for anyone following an ETC certified training programme leading to finding a job.”

AD spokesperson on EU and international affairs Prof. Arnold Cassola said that the resistance to capping overtime work is due to low wages. “People are forced to work more, even at the expense of their family and social life because they have to make ends meet somehow. We must move away from this state of affairs if we really believe in quality of life for all.”

“Malta also requires work policies that are in favour of the different types of families that exist. In spite of all its rhetoric, Malta’s Government keeps retaining amongst the lowest level of rights and opportunities for different family types. Examples of this include the minimal level of parental leave and the lack of a holistic and comprehensive policy on childcare centres, where parents can balance their responsibilities as parents with other activities in the public sphere, such as work, whilst their children receive quality education. One should also keep in mind that many rights enjoyed by workers in the public service are being denied to workers in the private sector.”

AD insists on policies which balance social, environmental and economic priorities, which can result in a better quality of life for all workers and employees.

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