Editorial: Worker’s Day and other matters

Last Updated on Thursday, 4 May, 2023 at 7:39 pm by Andre Camilleri

Worker’s Day was once again celebrated on 1 May.

Both political parties organised mass activities which were used for different reasons.

The Labour Party thought it fit to announce a tax refund to workers – money they have already paid, and which will be given back to them – in what has now become a yearly stunt.

On the other hand, the Nationalist Party chose to use the 1 May celebration to organise a protest next to St Luke’s Hospital, one of the three public hospitals that was given away by the Labour government to the private sector, only to see it forcibly returned to public possession after a landmark court judgment earlier this year.

Both party leaders took the opportunity to play their political game. In their respective speeches, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition Leader Bernard Grech lambasted each other’s policies and work for Malta and its people, highlighting what their party has done or what it would do to make things better for the worker.

But as their respective supporters jumped, danced and waved before them in Valletta and Pieta’, many others at home wondered how they will make it to the end of the month.

It’s true that Malta has had near full employment for a number of years, and that so many jobs are being created that we have had to bring in many workers from abroad to fill in the places that the Maltese no longer like to occupy, and others which were created for them in several industries.

But it is also true that since the start of 2022, and particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the inflation that has hit Malta – and the rest of the world for that matter – has complicated the lives of many. The value of money is lower than what it used to be 18 months ago, and each €100 is now worth much less than what it used to in January last year.

Workers have seen their wages go up by €9.90 per week this year, but this has also meant that this COLA revision has pushed prices of products and services further up, and it is possible that we are heading towards an even larger COLA adjustment when the budget for 2024 will be formulated.

Many private companies and struggling to keep the pace, and another hefty increase in wages in 2024 could mean serious trouble for them.

Matters would be worse were it not for the government’s decision to subsidise the increase in prices for energy and fuel but, as we all know – or should know – this is only a postponement of the problem. The government may look good at this time for doing this, but the day will dawn when reality will hit us.

For how long could this be sustained? Malta’s deficit and debt is climbing up day after day, and there will come a time that we will have to pay the price for this.

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