Thursday, 20 September 2012

Malta Star: [VIDEO] "Quality of life is vital" - Joseph Muscat
Tuesday, 18 Sep 2012, 19:23

On the second day of the Labour Party Congress 2012, the theme of the first ever national congress meeting between the 14 and 23 September will be ‘A future that unites us’. The topics discussed are the Future of Jobs, Family and Civil Liberities at MFCC in Ta' Qali.

The successful congress kicked off on Monday attended by people from all walks of life who went to listen and also voice their opinion and aspirations. Labour president Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said the congress will be an opportunity for the members to propose ideas and policies for the party's electoral manifesto.

Meanwhile, discussions about Civil Liberties and Family are ongoing. One of the keynote speakers MGRM Coordinator Gabi Calleja said that it is about time that gay families will be recognised as a family unit. She added that as the love between a man and a woman is protected, so must be the love between two men and two women, so as to protect the rights of all the children.

Social worker Carmen Faerne stressed that the family's standard of living should be the priority of the government. She shared various ideas on how to improve the quality of life, especially those of the children.

Dr Yana Micallef Stafrace expressed her solidarity with the Labour Party's disability policies.

It was discussed that the state has the obligation to safeguard the rights of all citizens, including children. It also needs to consolidate the laws and bring them up to date.

Speaking on the Future of Jobs, key note speaker Roberto Cristiano said that health and safety at work is of utmost importance in all kinds of jobs.

He said that it is a pity that graduates and students are not finding a job that matches their qualifications.

Quoting a research study by the University of Exeter, Cristiano said that qualified women are working in far more difficult situations than their male counterparts - leading to the Precariat state.

He concluded that Malta can offer many opportunities although these need to be safeguarded.

General Workers' Union General Secretary Tony Zarb stressed that employment should not be based on the Precariat but on employment with better conditions.

He added that bureaucracy should be reduced and foreign embassies should be forearmed to attract more job opportunities to Malta.

He assured Labour leader Joseph Muscat that the GWU will work hand in hand with the Labour Party to eliminate the Precariat.

In her intervention Renèe Laiviera from the Malta Confederation of Women's Organisations (MCWO) said she is pleased that the discussion is exposing the lack of inequality our society is suffering.

However she feels that we should be ashamed that Malta ranks the lowest in female board representation (3%) in the European Union (17%).

On top of that, Malta does not have female MEPs and we also have the lowest percentage of women in parliament, This despite the fact that 60% of all university students are female graduates for nearly a decade.

Laiviera added that the gender pay gap between men and women who are equally qualified and perform the same job is 23%, and this needs to change for a better society, she stressed.

PL Executive Secretary Dr Lydia Abela said that it is unacceptable that women are absent in the state's decision making policies and assured that a Labour government will seek to take initiatives and achieve equality.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat said the main issue is a better quality of life and that does not mean havng more money in your pockets as that is useless if the cost of living keeps on rising.

He described the Labour Party as the party that represents employment. We need a clear vision of what an employee represents.

"Quality of life is vital. We need to build a new middle class," Dr Muscat noted.

He explained that local statistics show that since April 2012, unemployment is on the rise. He said that this reality pushes the Labour Party to propose as a guideline for its manifesto - siutable employment for a better quality of life.

On the thorny issue of the minimum wage, Dr.Muscat said that he prefers to concentrate on the standard of living than to increase the minimum wage.

He added that the government's economic responsibilities lie to help the small and medium enterprises.

However he assured that a Labour led government will reduce the utility bills so as to help everyone.

He also promised that contrary to what GonziPN states, that under a Labour government, students will keep on receiving stipends and retirement age will not be increased.

The Labour leader stated that the new Labour government will be a feminist one and female participation in the workforce needs to increase so as the glass ceiling will be shattered for good.

He also stressed that bureaucracy will be fought so as these aspirations are fully met.

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