Making Work Pay As A Way To Promote Employment And Social Inclusion

 Participating in the Tripartite Social Summit Chamber President Anton Borg spoke about the need for retraining opportunities and unemployment benefit systems that balance the rights and duties of the unemployed.

Participating in the Tripartite Social Summit that was held in Brussels yesterday, Malta Chamber President Anton Borg said that Europe is still facing persistent high unemployment, especially amongst European youth, which continues to afflict European economies even in the aftermath of the economic crisis.

“We certainly support the fact that the Maltese presidency has made Social Inclusion one of its priorities. This would minimise the risk of poverty and social exclusion” he said.

Speaking about the positive results Malta achieved in the last five years, Mr Borg said that Malta has undergone a major transformation in terms of labour market developments. He explained how the major change came about from the policy makers’ recognition that active labour market policies were more effective in the long term.

“Coherent strategies need to include retraining opportunities as well as unemployment benefit systems that balance the rights and duties of the unemployed, and ones which avoid that the unemployed become dependent on social systems.”

“During the last years, free childcare for working parents, in-work benefits for the long term unemployed who return to the labour market, the reduction in income tax for the higher income earners, the establishment of a maternity leave trust fund, and incentives for people with a disability to join the workforce have all had a positive impact. All this combined with a remarkable economic performance led to an unemployment rate currently standing at 4.5%, well below the EU average. Our biggest challenges now are namely labour shortage in both numbers and skills/competencies” he said.

Speaking in the presence of European Council President Donald Tusk, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Borg said that public authorities should work hand in hand with social partners and employment agencies to ensure that active labour market policies are effective in matching labour market needs with the available workforce.

“Coherent strategies need to include retraining opportunities as well as unemployment benefit systems that balance the rights and duties of the unemployed, and ones which avoid that the unemployed become dependent on social systems.”

Referring to the matter of wages, Mr Borg said that any changes in such, especially in minimum wages, should be in line with increases in productivity.

“If businesses are to invest to raise productivity they also need to earn a return on that investment. Any wage increase beyond productivity gains would threaten one’s competitiveness in the global economy” he warned.

The Tripartite Social Summit is a forum for dialogue between the EU institutions at president level and the European social partners at top management level. The summit is co-chaired by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Head of Government of the rotating presidency. Employers are represented by BusinessEurope, European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP) and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME). Trade unions are represented by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

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