This paper investigates perceptions of unemployed ageing workers in Malta, in relation to disadvantages in the labour market and to discouragement with regard to chances of finding stable employment. The principal results are that educational level and number of breadwinners in one's household significantly affect perceptions; and that there are cases manifesting the 'discouraged worker effect', even though they are still registering to find employment. This challenges traditional views arguing that this effect is present only among individuals who already gave up the job search completely. This paper concludes that the struggle for productive employment requires mass representation of trade unions, which, in turn, require the construction of alliances to widen their appeal.