Watch: Air Malta cabin crew forfeit rights for job retention

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Air Malta cabin crew have forfeited their rights in order for to retain their jobs, after the Economy Minister Silvio Schembri and the national airline signed a waiver agreement terminating the 2016 collective agreement.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Minister Silvio Schembri said that the closure of the airport meant that from its ten aircraft, only one aircraft was flying on a daily basis. He said that Air Malta was operating repatriation flights and cargo flights. He remarked that the national airline lost all its revenue from commercial flights.

Schembri underlined that the aviation sector was facing the biggest crisis with various airline companies around the world either defaulting or laying off their employees.

The global coronavirus pandemic did not only spark a public health emergency but had an impact on the world’s economy. As various countries entered into lockdown, flights were grounded and borders closed. The future is dim for the rest of the year, as many are not expecting a high demand in commercial flights.

Schembri explained that there were talks with various unions representing different categories of employees within the aviation sector. Negotiations are still underway with the union representing the pilots, with the Minister appealing to ALPA to find common ground on the matter.

The Economy Minister remarked that decisions had to be taken in order to save the national airline. The agreement reached with the union representing the cabin crew will see all employees whether they are on indefinite or definite contract retained, with the latter not being paid until they would actually report for work.

The waiver agreement signed on Thursday, dropped certain clauses from previous collective agreement, this will allow the company to become more efficient and competitive, Schembri noted.

“The cabin crew have understood the current situation sparked by the coronavirus, and have opted to give up crucial rights among which is the take home pay,” Schembri said. He added that they will be paid against the hours worked and this would make the company’s operation more sustainable while offering a competitive advantage for the national airline.

“All previous agreements between the government and the company have been terminated. The company will rid itself of the chains which tied it up to the past,” Schembri maintained. He urged ALPA to take note of the sacrifices being made by other employees in the aviation industry.

Air Malta chairman Charles Mangion also addressed the press conference. He remarked that the negotiations were not easy. He mentioned that the national airline has been drawing up flexible plans as it prepares for a post-coronavirus era. Speaking about the waiver agreement he said that it was based on two principles, that of safeguarding jobs while at the same time making the company viable in view of the current circumstances.

Air Malta will receive state aid

Schembri underlined the need to make Air Malta’s operations economically viable by giving it competitive edge. He remarked that it was not acceptable for the company to operate at the brink of bankruptcy, adding that difficult decisions will be taken in order to make the national airline efficient.

The national airline will undergo restructuring before it will be assisted through state aid, Schembri said.

Video: Facebook / Ekonomija

If you want to be the first to receive the latest news on the coronavirus in Malta, download the Newsbook APP here.