Air Malta pilots have announced industrial action after the government did not start discussions over their collective agreement.
In a tweet, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said that the pilots will start industrial action at midnight, without specifying what kind of action the pilots will be taking.
Pilots ordered industrial action to delay flights as from midnight. Government will NOT bow to pressure and provide ridiculous guarantees on Early Retirement Schemes.
— Konrad Mizzi (@KonradMizzi) June 30, 2019
In a statement, Air Malta expressed its disappointment that, yet again, ALPA, the union representing Air Malta pilots, threatens with industrial action during its busiest period of year.
The union has ordered its members to delay the airline’s flights by 30 minutes as of tomorrow 1 July. ALPA is threatening action over a guarantee that they expect from the government, as the airline’s main shareholder, over a retirement scheme which sees them receive close to Eur700,000 at the age of 55.
Ever since the signing of the collective agreement early last year, Air Malta has been in long and tough discussions with ALPA over interpretations of this agreement and other issues, the airline said.
The airline said it has tried to find solutions to each and every issue raised, however ALPA continually fails to show the goodwill necessary to ensure harmonious industrial relations. Air Malta remains committed to resolve amicably any issues that ALPA may have whilst protecting its customers’ travel plans, its flight schedule and ensure safety of its passengers above everything else.
The airline also insisted that the interest of one section of the company must not undermine the sustainability and operation of the airline to the detriment of the company and all its employees. Air Malta emphasised that it remains committed to safeguard its operations whilst working on its plans to improve its route network and frequencies to main hubs and enhance its products like its business class and cargo services.
Earlier, it was reported that the majority of pilots backed calls for industrial action as they feel that the conditions laid down in their collective agreement are not being respected.
These include working schedules, the shortage of pilots and leave issues.
Both Times of Malta and MaltaToday report that the pilots are also concerned about the recent agreement signed between the government and Ryanair, which set up the new subsidiary Malta Air. Many pilots feel that the creation of the new airline is a “direct hit” at Air Malta, according to the reports.
The airline pilots’ association (ALPA) is reportedly demanding guarantees from Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
The government has said that Malta Air will not compete head-on with Air Malta.
MaltaToday said ALPS is requesting a guarantee on an early retirement scheme even if the airline closes down.
A spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry told the newspaper that the government cannot give that guarantee as it would be breaching state aid laws, but added that closing down the national airline was “not in the government’s vision.”