The Malta Independent 24 June 2019, Monday

GWU, MEA agree UHM's proposal on statutory bonus increase would boost spending power

Monday, 12 September 2016, 16:48 Last update: about 4 years ago

The General Workers Union and the Malta Employers Association said today they had no problem with a UHM proposal for the government to raise the annual statutory bonus.

The proposal is an alternative to one put forward by the GWU, which is urging the government to give workers back all the public holidays that fall on a weekend.

The UHM’s proposal is for a bonus increase, which would be based on basic wage and paid by government through a cheque from the Treasury. The scheme would affect over 75,000 workers. Those earning between €8,736 and €9.999 would receive a €200 bonus, those earning €10,000 to €15,000 would receive €180 and those receiving between €15,001 and €20,000 would receive €150. The total scheme is calculated to cost around €12.8 million.

Currently everyone receives statutory bonus in June and December, of €135 each time, and a weekly allowance paid in March and September of €121 at the end of each period.

The proposal was discussed during a meeting of the social partners held this afternoon.

Asked if the proposal had been welcomed by the other social partners, UHM Director Jesmond Bonello said: “Normally our job is to help workers in difficult times and working so that their workplace does not close down. Now that the country is doing well economically, we are knocking on the government’s door and working to give workers better conditions, including this proposal, which will not cost the employers a cent but will mean additional income for workers. This is a proposal that we will continue discussing in future meetings and we will have the chance to explain it in greater detail during a press conference on Thursday.”

GWU Secretary General Josef Bugeja said the union supported any additional benefits to workers. “I have no problem with the UHM proposal or with anything that would help citizens lead a better life.”

The GWU’s own proposal was rejected by the Malta Employers Association, which said that  Maltese workers already had enough public holidays. “That was part of the discussion here today. The trade unions agree while the employers do not. It is part of the democratic process. Finally it is the government that decides. I believe that since the economy is doing well next year’s budget will be balanced and will help those who are most in need.”

He confirmed that, despite the initial negative reaction from some sectors, which also include the Chamber of Commerce, the GWU would keep pushing its proposal forward. “If it does not make it into next year’s budget we will try again the following year.”

Asked if the GWU had been any feedback at all from the government, Mr Bugeja said it had not. “We have not spoken to the government about it and we have not asked for any feedback.”

Joe Farrugia, the Director General of the Malta Employers Association said the proposal would first have to be costed. “The UHM is saying that the government should fork out the increase so it is up to the government to decide whether to accept and to see how much it will cost and what impact it would have on public finances.”

Mr Farrugia said that, if adopted, the measure would have a positive effect on the economy because it would give people, especially those with a lower income, greater spending power.

He added that this afternoon’s meeting was positive and gave the social partners the change to present their proposals to each other. “At the end of the day it is up to the government to decide which proposals to take on board for next year’s budget.”

 

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