The General Workers’ Union (GWU) advocates for the implementation of a National Living Income (NLI) following a study that reveals households require more than just minimum wage and a basic budget for meaningful societal participation.
The suggested NLIs range from €14,864 for a childless single person to €30,734 for a couple with two children. GWU’s Josef Bugeja asserts that a guaranteed NLI for all households would narrow the gap between low-wage earners and the average income, combating social inequality.
A two-parent household with two children needs up to €30,734 to maintain a decent lifestyle, according to the GWU. This surpasses Malta’s current minimum wage of €182.83 weekly or €9,507 annually. The study serves as a benchmark for understanding a decent living standard and initiating a broader conversation about employment conditions, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GWU attributes the rise in in-work poverty (IWP) to Malta’s economic boom, fuelled by an influx of low-wage foreign workers. Between 2012 and 2017, there was a 13.5% increase in those at risk of IWP, particularly single-adult households with dependent children.
The NLI, as advocated by the GWU, encompasses more than mere survival, covering contemporary social needs rather than luxuries. It surpasses the Caritas study’s minimum budget for a decent life, emphasising expenses beyond basic necessities.
Bugeja emphasises that a decent standard of living should facilitate meaningful societal participation and elevate human freedom and capability beyond a certain threshold. The NLI’s objective is to uplift lower-income groups, guaranteeing access to essential goods and services for all.