Cancer patients and working parents entitled to special leave; minimum wage will increase – PM
“If an employee is diagnosed with cancer he or she will be eligible for more leave so that he or she can receive treatment,” Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in San Ġwann yesterday morning.
He said that until now, when a cancer patient needs leave to receive treatment, his or her employer and other employees allow him or her extra days away from work or give up some of their vacation entitlement. This government, together with the employers, wants to reach an agreement that stipulates that cancer patients are entitled to more leave so that they can receive treatment
Another agreement that needs to be reached and introduced next year is that for special leave to parents with sick children. He said that “one of the reasons why women do not join the workforce is family constraints, such as children getting sick with no one to take care of them.”
Minimum wage was another issue addressed by the Prime Minister. Dr Muscat said that “this government, in the Budget, has already sent a signal that the minimum wage nowadays is not adequate and not enough for today’s needs.” Nowadays, you can’t sustain a family if you are on the minimum wage and what we did this year is increase it. Dr Muscat said that the next step is for the employers’ associations, together with the trade unions, meet, to discuss and reach an agreement regarding the minimum wage, and if this does not happen, the government will have to intervene and decide.
Dr Muscat said that these are some of the “social revolution” measures that the country is ready to take so that the conditions for its workers will improve. He said that this revolution is the next in line after two “revolutions” in the energy and health sectors that this government has made in the past three and a half years. Dr Muscat said that “we are not the establishment but the establishment are those who want things to remain the same. We are definitely not like that. We are the movement of change in this country and as a result of this we will always find people who try to suppress our ideas.”
Dr Muscat also spoke about a change in mentality vis-a-vis foreign workers. “It is not true that the law makes a distinction between Maltese and foreign workers.” He said that foreign workers are important in our economy because our employers are not finding enough Maltese workers. Foreign workers, however, should have the necessary permits to be able to work. People who come to Malta illegally and are not eligible to any humanitarian protection should be deported.
Dr Muscat said that he was in agreement with the police who this week deported 30 people back to their respective “safe countries” in Africa. He emphasized that no international law is being broken and an agreement with the European Union has been reached to ensure that the rights of these migrants will be protected in their home country.
The Prime Minister spoke about the Cabinet meeting which took place in Brussels last Wednesday, in which the majority of the Ministers attended as part of preparations for Malta to take over the EU presidency. He said the Cabinet members were shown respect by their counterparts in the Commission and added that “respect can’t be bought but it is gained and this week the EU Commission showed us that we are well prepared for the Presidency.”
Dr Muscat added that “while others try to dent our work, the President of the EU Commission Jean Claude Juncker, whose main interest is the wellbeing of Europe, went out of his way to show us support.”