Pay perks for the privileged

1 min read

The ball of string around the automatic cost of living adjustment on wages is unravelling. The Labour Minister allows more days for opposing sides to submit their final positions on the dispute, which, if unresolved, could lead to an ugly standoff.

Nobody wants to suffer from strikes, especially a few weeks away from the next presidential elections, as this would be disastrous for candidates supported, officially or unofficially, by the outgoing administration.

But, at the same time, opposition forces would jump at the opportunity to criticise the government for bungling such a major issue.

However, what is being discussed is the level of wage increases and not who should get one.

The main trade unions, traditionally in blind support of civil servants, semi-government employees and bank staff, have been trying to deflect the issue that their members will get the full adjusted pay increase, regardless of productivity or financial capability.

Their members remain privileged, evading evaluations, yet will get a near 4% pay rise at the end of January, thanks to the generosity of taxpayers.

However, nearly 80% of those hard-working people in the rest of the private sector, neglected by the trade unions, will get nothing, as they have never enjoyed the benefits defined by collective agreements.

They are at the bottom end of pay scales; hence the impact on their employers will not be as great as the burden on the state payroll.

Instead of working towards achieving a universal scheme that would allow for lower-income workers to get a proportionally higher pay increase, if anything, trade unions have opted to sit this one out, and successive Labour Ministers have shied away from the issue, as it could have political repercussions from the powerful unions.

And employers are happy not to give pay raises, even though many of their employees deserve an increase to allow them to overcome the problems of inflation and higher consumer costs caused by a chain of crises.

Perhaps, the talk should be about looking after the underprivileged.

Yet, the same stakeholders (state, unions, employers) also chose to leave out foreign workers, farm labourers and on-ship crew from the ‘revolutionary’ reform of introducing a national minimum wage a few weeks ago, after the matter remained unresolved for decades.