Watch: UĦM argues for a 2021 Budget with a conscience

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The UĦM – Voice of the Workers has presented its proposals for the 2021 Budget, insisting on the need to strike a balance between the interests of employers and those of workers.

The union’s chief executive Josef Vella insisted that an economy can only be deemed successful if the environment and people’s health are safeguarded and a proper work-life balance is reached.

“Every life is precious to this union,” Vella said, going on to quote World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who argued that not taking the death of the elderly seriously was an example of moral decay.

“Let us make sure that this budget will also have a conscience.”

Teleworking arrangements should be permanent

The union insists that teleworking arrangements should not only remain in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, but remain a permanent fixture. Vella highlighted that remote working helped workers achieve a better work-life balance, apart from reducing emissions through a drop in commuters.

In line with this, the union also believes that the government should work with internet service providers to strengthen Malta’s broadband infrastructure.

The UĦM is also proposing that private sector workers subcontracted to the government should receive the same salaries and benefits as their public sector counterparts. Vella specifically mentioned the public hospitals being managed by Steward Health Care as an example.

In light of an increase in workplace accidents, the union believes that the Occupational Health and Safety Authority should be strengthened, so that existing regulations are properly enforced.

The UĦM is also insisting that parents should be allowed to make use of sick leave to care for their sick children, for emergency leave to be doubled from 16 to 32 hours and to extend injury leave from 1 year to 2.

To tackle abuse and precarious employment, the union believes that every job should be covered by a work contract accessible through the JobsPlus portal. It also said that the time had come to revise Wage Regulations Orders, since they no longer reflected present-day reality.