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'We cannot compensate for inflation caused by property boom' - employers

MEA unveils its Budget 2019 proposals

Employers say more leave for workers would be 'populist'.

Employers say more leave for workers would be 'populist'.

Extending free childcare facilities to parents who work night shifts, incentives for workers to continue working past 61 and periodically reviewing social housing beneficiaries are among the things employers want the government to introduce in Budget 2019.

The Malta Employers Association also used its proposals for the upcoming budget to warn the government that employers “cannot be expected to compensate for inflation caused by a property boom” and the blame for spiralling costs could not be pinned on them.

The MEA also reiterated its opposition to plans to introduce additional vacation leave for workers, arguing that given that Malta already had a large number of public holidays and optional leave, adding more is "unnecessary, populist and possibly unsustainable".

Last August, the government was forced to reverse a decision to introduce additional leave following uproar by employers’ associations.

Among the MEA's Budget 2019 proposals:

- Involving private sector representatives in collective bargaining negotiations concerning the public sector, or at least discussing negotiated packages with the private sector before they are approved

- Resisting nursing union calls for early retirement schemes. This would set a precedent, and Malta's low labour participation rate made this completely unfeasible.

- Workers who have the option to retire at 61 but whose pensionable age is higher should receive half their pension if they choose to continue working until their retirement age. The costs of this would be offset by higher National Insurance and tax revenues, it would ease labour force shortages and give older workers some breathing room in saving up for retirement.

- Social housing entitlements should be periodically reviewed and rents revised according to family income. Social housing units should be kept simple and provide “minimum accomodation” to encourage people to move out.

- Malta should be at the forefront of electric vehicle testing, with Gozo suggested as an “ideal test market”.

- Positions of trust should be capped and MPs barred from holding them. People employed in such a manner must have their contracts and perks made public. Positions of trust not filled through a recruitment process should be subject to a periodic, independent audit.

- Government must commit to using the tendering process in public procurement, rather than relying on direct orders.

- Government should finalise agreements with non-EU countries, which are a source of labour for Malta, such as Serbia and the Philippines.

- More direct assistance for SMEs to get up to speed on digital and ecommerce developments.

- Cheaper electricity rates for commercial enterprises, which currently pay higher rates than domestic users. The MEA suggests streamlining these divergent rates over a five-year period.

- Extending free child care facilities to cover night shifts in industrial zones. 

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