Pilot union ALPA has yet again attacked the Air Malta management for their “utter lack of direction” as pilots once again threaten to strike after the carrier failed to respond to their demands surrounding working conditions.
Air Malta Airbus A319 registered 9H-AEJ. Photo by Jero Vida | AeroNewsX
As we detailed in April, relations between unions and Air Malta aren't satisfactory. ALPA, in April, said it was questioning ‘the wisdom’ of Air Malta Chief Executive, Captain Clifford Chetcuti. This came after Air Malta notified the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER) of its intention to layoff 108 pilots, representing 80% of its cockpit workforce. ALPA says this leaves enough pilots to man two aircraft. Originally, Air Malta had asked pilots to take a minimum income – worth EUR1200 a month – an offer rejected by the pilot union.
The aforementioned issues were somewhat resolved, with Air Malta slashing its pilot workforce by just 69, as we reported in early-June. This had come as disappointing news to many. Now, in what is the latest in the ALPA-Air Malta story, pilots have threatened to go on strike.
Over the last couple of years, Air Malta has been plagued with strike threats which have limited the carrier's profitability ambitions. Fortunately, Air Malta managed to report its first profit in March 2019, for the first time in nearly two decades. The coronavirus crisis, however, has brought about further issues for the airline, which was indeed focusing on maintaining profitability through 2020 and the years to come. Air Malta was forced to initiate further discussions with its employee unions to safeguard jobs and avoid an additional downsizing of the company’s overall operation. An agreement was reached with Air Malta’s cabin crew union, as we reported on 28 May. “As a Government we will continue to assist to see that we help the company as much as we can,” Malta’s Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said. Schembri noted that while the agreement with the cabin crew union was a significant step in reducing company operating costs, the same was necessary from pilot union ALPA - but those discussions failed, and 69 of 134 total pilot positions, were lost.
ALPA said on Thursday: "ALPA has been forced to register a number of industrial disputes relating to breaches of our members’ conditions of employment, including the unilateral and arbitrary termination of employment, breach of rights enshrined in the collective agreement currently in force, as well as the irregularities relating to the negotiation procedure preceding the declaration of collective redundancies."
The union continued: "It is clear that Air Malta is negotiating in bad faith and that its only interest is to undermine collective conditions of employment through opportunistic and predatory behaviour."
ALPA has warned that its members have voted 'overwhelmingly' in favour of industrial action, which will undoubtedly batter Air Malta's finances even further.