Employers do not want redundant Air Malta workers deployed to public sector

MEA says redundant Air Malta employees will add €15 million to overstaffed public sector and should be pushed into productive employment with private sector

The Malta Employers’ Association is opposing plans by the Maltese government to redeploy over 400 redundant employees at national airline Air Malta, in the public sector.

The MEA said the state of Air Malta, long rendered non-profitable by increased staffing, was the result of delayed action and wrong strategic decisions. “Matters have now escalated to a stage where a drastic cost-cutting exercise is the only way in which the airline can keep operating,” the MEA said.

Finance minister Clyde Caruana yesterday announced he would pare down the airline to lower its costs in a bid to reduce its annual multi-million losses, but the government will still provide employment for some 400 workers that will be shipped out of the airline.

But the MEA said that transferring the redundant section of the labour force in Air Malta to the public sector should not be considered, claiming the public sector was already overstaffed. 

MEA said it was willing to participate with government authorities in an exercise to redeploy these employees into productive employment with the private sector.

“Such employment will add a further €15 million to recurrent expenditure. This will also send a wrong message to Maltese employees that some people have special rights, where others have to queue in an unemployment line if they become redundant.

“At the same time, many companies are complaining of a shortage of employees, and it is likely that many Air Malta employees do have skills that are in demand in many companies in the tight labour market we are experiencing. This will lead to a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

The Chamber of Commerce yesterday lauded what it said was a “sensible and realistic approach” to the national airline’s woes.

“The Malta Chamber notes the stark contrast to the various approaches taken historically with respect to Air Malta. The maturity with which the unions have responded to this is also commendable. Undoubtedly, gone are the days when we carry forward unsustainable operational practices in any state entity and keep pumping public funds into unviable business models, simply to safeguard jobs or for political convenience.”

The Chamber said the proposed actions to improve the financial performance of the airline were reasonable and credible. “All parties involved in Air Malta’s transition need to be reasonable and responsible in their demands to ensure that the country succeeds in saving the national airline. The Malta Chamber hopes that this restructuring plan will ultimately guarantee a sustainable future for Air Malta.”