[WATCH] Air Malta signs collective agreement with cabin crew union

An agreement signed today will see cabin crew on both definite and indefinite contracts retaining their job with Air Malta

Air Malta has suffered like all other airlines from travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19
Air Malta has suffered like all other airlines from travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19

Air Malta has signed a collective agreement which will see all cabin crew personnel keeping their job.

The agreement covers workers on both definite and indefinite contracts, who will be retained on the company’s books.

“Today is a step closer to a win, for the country and common sense,” Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said, thanking workers for their “sacrifice”.

The agreement signed between Air Malta and the Union of Cabin Crew will see the workers relinquishing a number of benefits agreed in 2016. These include giving up the guarantee for a minimum take-home pay, which will now see crew members paid for the number of hours they work.

“Thanks to the sacrifice by workers, we will be making the airline competitive again,” Schembri said.

Crew on an indefinite contract will be allocated a number of hours during the week, while crew with a definite contract will be called in once demand increases.

Looking ahead, the Economy Minister said the last hurdle for the company’s management is coming to an agreement with the pilots’ union.

“I appeal to ALPA to follow suit in understanding the challenges faced by the company,” Schembri said.

Following the reforms, government’s next step would be of using state aid to help the company, as had been approved by the European Commission in light of the pandemic.

Air Malta Chairperson Charles Mangion said the agreement stemmed from two salient points, the safeguarding of jobs, and the viability of the airline.

“The negotiations were not easy, but an agreement was reached because I think everyone kept the workers’ interest at heart,” he said.

He also said the company has agile and flexible plans which will help it adapt to the new realties. “The workers’ future depends on the viability of the company,” Mangion said.

In April, Air Malta had announced it would be making 108 pilots from its staff of 134 redundant, after ALPA refused to take a radical pay cut of €1,200 a month due to the coronavirus grounding all flights.

The airline had said it would also make 139 cabin crew on indefinite contracts redundant, and stop 145 cabin crew on fixed-term contracts.

Asked if today’s decision could be translated as a U-turn, the Economy Minister said the company is adapting to the new realities that are cropping up.

Following reports that the airport will be opening in mid-July, Schembri said the announcement will be made official once the health authorities give their go ahead.