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Minimum wages should be increased by 5% across the EU - Alfred Sant

MEP calls for economic benefits to be passed on to the lower-paid

Alfred Sant has called for an improved minimum wage. Photo: Jason Borg

Alfred Sant has called for an improved minimum wage. Photo: Jason Borg

European Union member states with minimum wage laws should all bump up pay for their lowest-paid workers by at least five per cent, MEP Alfred Sant told the European Parliament. 

Dr Sant, who argued in favour of an EU-wide national minimum wage adapted to conditions in each member state, said that in most cases minimum wages continued to fall short of what a living wage should be.

He argued that while economic conditions were improving, many on those on society’s lower rungs continued to struggle.

“Private consumption has grown. Exports and investment have increased. Unemployment continues to fall and it has gotten closer to pre-crisis levels. Profits of corporations have increased. Public deficit and debt levels have been largely brought under control. Not so the share of the economic cake being enjoyed by the working and middle classes; there the deficit has continued to grow,” he noted.

22 EU member states have statutory minimum wage laws in place. Malta’s minimum wage of €172 a week places it in the mid-range of EU member states, when minimum wages are calculated in purchasing power standards, according to a Eurofound report.

MEP and former Prime Minister Dr Sant was speaking during a debate titled ‘Minimum income for a fair Europe: a right for citizens’.

He said the divergences between the highest income earners and the lowest had, unfairly, continued to increase.

“At best, minimum income schemes play the role of safety nets for the most vulnerable workers and for individuals unable to guarantee an adequate standard of living through their own efforts. They are hardly doing so. The time has come however for such schemes to go beyond this minimum”.

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