Malta’s largest business-lobby group, The Malta Chamber, said it is “disappointed” with a deal awarded by the Government to Air Malta pilots made redundant in early June.
The decision is not reflective of industrial relations norms and practices, The Malta Chamber continued.
Government will provide former Air Malta pilot s whose jobs were terminated by the national carrier, a job inside the public sector at their same take-home pay as calculated in a pilots’ collective agreement.
Such pilots faced termination by Air Malta on 8th June, after the pilots union, ALPA, refused a cut in take-home pay when almost all travel ground to a halt dur to COVID restrictions.
Air Malta had proposed a monthly wage of €1,200 with all pilots retaining their jobs. ALPA refused on numerous occasions, demanding a seat at the table during discussions
The Government reportedly had to commit itself to a guarantee signed on 26th January 2018 by disgraced former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, to give pilots a job at the same take-home pay they are earning now should Air Malta be downsized.
The agreement provides for alternate jobs at the same take-home pay to be provided until 31st December 2022.
“Such a precedent will certainly create difficulties in the future when Government will be dealing with other sensitive sectors, companies and professions in society,” The Malta Chamber said in a strongly worded statement.
“The agreement creates an unlevel playing field, as it discriminates between workers. We have seen over the years across other industries, that when companies, both public or private, are faced with financial difficulties, redundancies are dealt with appropriately in line with industrial relations norms and practices, irrespective of the regrettable challenges that such an approach inevitably brings about on both the employer and the employee.”
The Malta Chamber does not see any valid reason why this case warrants preferential treatment.
The differential treatment of employment relations is unacceptable, unfair and unwarranted at any time, even more so during these trying periods, it continued.
The Malta Chamber called for transparency on the details of the alternative employment the pilots will be engaged in, what their terms of reference will be and what they will be expected to be doing, as clearly the assumption is that they will not be carrying out their profession as pilots in their alternative roles.
The Malta Chamber expressed concerned on the cost this will bear on the national coffers, at a time where substantial financial challenges are already being endured.
Last week, the Malta Employers Association also slammed the deal, citing similar reasons as The Malta Chamber.