The General Workers Union (GWU) yesterday published a 14-point economic stimulus package it presented for discussion within the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD). In a statement, the GWU remarked that despite a worsening international situation measures can be taken to stimulate the economy and to save jobs.
Among the proposals were a lowering of VAT rates on employment creating activities such as maintenance and repair services and catering as well as an extension of the banks’ moratorium on loans to workers who became unemployed. The moratorium should cover the whole jobless period and not only the first year, be available also to those working a four-day week and imply a suspension of interest payments as well as an interruption of repayments in capital. The moratorium should cover personal loans and not only home loans.
In the case of workers on a four-day week, the GWU proposed that as long as they remained on a shorter working week regime, this should be counted as a full working week for purposes of calculating their pensionable income.
In exhorting the government to ensure that workers received the same pay for the same work regardless of sex or ethnic origin, it also insisted that the Government should set an example by not awarding contracts to firms that employed foreign workers under inferior working terms and conditions.
Government should also reduce Government induced costs particularly to small businesses by revising its own charges and tariff system. The GWU called for an immediate revision of water and electricity tariffs back to the levels in force before the Government’s recent attempt to change them. The Union said that in any case such tariffs should reflect actual oil market prices.
In order to sustain general liquidity, according to the GWU, the government should come to terms with the banks to permit support of small business and the jobs they maintained. The government should also make use of all available EU funds, meaning those available for 2009 as well as those still untapped from the previous two years.
Urging the government to take the natural environment more seriously, it proposed further embellishment and landscaping as well as road repairs. The GWU also proposed the training of energy auditors to sustain the establishment of alternative energy generation in homes and that alternative energy generation should be a requirement of new building permits.
In the case of workers on a four-day week, the GWU proposed that the Government should shoulder 75 per cent of the pay for the missing day’s work per week while requiring such workers to undergo training with the ETC or ITS.
In order to support a recovery of the tourism industry, the GWU suggests that airport fees are reduced as an incentive to airlines.
While approving of the setting up of a Task Force to assist small and medium enterprises, the GWU feels that it should participate in the process and to prevent misuse of the assistance granted.
In order to strengthen the economy, according to the GWU, the Government should discourage work on definite contracts and other precarious employment – a practice which the union says is on the rise.