Another session of the PL congress confirmed that the direction that the Labour party has been following, is the right one and that it is shared by many. The theme discussed was employment for the future. The resultant guidelines, which will form the basis of the election manifesto of the PL, were for meaningful employment that affords families a better standard of living.
Joseph Muscat has, for the last few months, been discussing employment statistics and conditions in the Maltese Islands. European data has clearly shown that the Maltese worker has a low hourly rate and that our wages do not compare well with other European countries.
The Labour party leader said that the guidelines will set new standards on which the Labour Party in government will deal with employment issues. Employment is not only job creation. It is meaningful employment that will lead to a better life, not only by way of disposable income.
Joseph Muscat said that the main aim will be to raise standards of living. Higher wages do not guarantee more disposable income, especially when the cost of living is increasing on a regular basis. An improved way of life leads to more quality family time and facilitates the attaining of personal and work related ambitions.
Raising the minimum wage is not the final solution. In a small market such as ours, this will have an adverse effect, especially in respect of employers. It will burden industry in Malta further and will jeopardize employment. The raising of the minimum wage in this economic climate is not a top priority. But careful consideration of the cost of utilities is.
Dr. Muscat said that a new Labour government will reduce Water and Electricity bills. Besides households and bread winners, in both the lower wage earners and in the middle class, this reduction in utility bills will help businesses and manufacturing, thereby helping improve their competitiveness. This will also help employment in the Maltese Islands.
The Labour party in government will ensure that families can reap the benefits of their hard work and sacrifices to give our younger generation an improved way of life. The PL in government will give all families peace of mind.
Dr Muscat confirmed that the PL is not working on a wish list, but on a roadmap for the future that will generate economic activity to the benefit of one and all. He remarked that he was convinced that the Labour party congress was reaching out to the new PL movement and to local politics in general. This exercise has helped bridge the gap between politicians and the people. It has helped politicians listen to the people, not only the other way round. Members of the PL, non-members and organizations in Malta and Gozo have all helped map the way forward. Joseph Muscat added that this is the only way of taking the country to where the people want it to be in the future.
The PL Leader confirmed that one of the major political ambitions of the Labour party is the creation of middle-class employment. This sector had thrived under previous Labour and Nationalist governments but it has been completely neglected by GonziPN. Joseph Muscat said that this new middle class is the PL’s objective.
Work, family and education are intertwined. The PL in government will nurture all these. Work is not restrictive to employees but also to employers, retailers, businesses and industrialists, as well as to students who have already been guaranteed opportunities for further education, training or employment on reaching the age of 16. Joseph Muscat has guaranteed that the Labour Party in government will do as such. The Labour Leader also addressed the problems regarding Agriculture and Fisheries. He said that the government is bound by certain EU directives but a new PL government will work hard to achieve a better understanding of the local scenario and obtain the best deal possible for fishermen and farmers.
The Labour Leader maintained that Education is at the forefront of the roadmap for the country and that the PL in government will maintain and indeed make improvements to students’ stipends.
Joseph Muscat also dwelt on the participation of women in Malta. He said that equality was not the only issue. A very important issue was sustainability of pensions and whereas the Gonzi government would increase pensionable age, a new Labour government will not. The PL will ensure sustainability through an increase in economic activity by supporting businesses and giving them the opportunity to expand. The government shall introduce employment programs aimed at encouraging more women to return to work, by giving them the right opportunities to make a career and a decent living. The PL Leader said that a Labour government will be more ‘feminist’ than any other government that the country has ever had.
The Labour Leader said that these discussions have served to cement the guidelines for the electoral manifest of the Labour Party – that of meaningful employment for a better way of life.