‘Obscene and unprecedented’: MEA slams Air Malta severance package

The employers’ association accused government of squandering taxpayers’ money to resolve Air Malta’s management problems

The Malta Employers Association (MEA) was not impressed by the severance packages being offered to redundant Air Malta employees, describing the offers as obscene and unprecedented.

In a statement, the MEA said that the severance package is “the most obscene agreement in Malta’s industrial relations history”, with workers being offered roughly €16,000 for every year of service.

“There are thousands of better ways to use such funds than wasting them on golden handshakes. This agreement is morally flawed, and only intended to appease an advantaged class of workers, many of whom should never have been employed at Air Malta in the first place.”

Air Malta workers who are members of the General Workers’ Union (GWU) approved the termination deals negotiated with the airline on Thursday.

The deal includes an early retirement scheme, which was a new addition to government’s original plan to offer a redeployment scheme only.

According to the GWU, workers who applied to be released from their job at Air Malta will either be transferred with government company RSSL with a similar take-home pay by the end of the year. Other workers will benefit from one of the early retirement schemes.

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Last January, the MEA had suggested transferring Air Malta employees to the private sector instead of relocating them to a public entity. The association argued that the public sector is already overstaffed, and said that such an exercise would add a further €15 million to recurrent expenditure.

“It is unthinkable that there have been no efforts to relocate these employees to the private sector, which currently faces a shortage of labour in many industries, leading many companies to engage foreign employees,” the association said.

The MEA described the airline’s human resource management as a tragedy of errors, having been overmanned for decades with some employees serving as “nothing else than political cronies”.

“What government is doing is squandering taxpayers’ money to resolve a mess of its own making. Offering jobs in the public sector is bad enough, but the details of this severance package are infinitely worse.”

“Companies and employees cannot take government’s appeal for tax compliance seriously when it is distributing millions of their taxes to a privileged few, with such handouts amounting to more than an average worker saves in his or her lifetime.”