De Marco urges pilots to act ‘responsibly’ when ordering industrial action

PN deputy leader Mario de Marco calls on Air Malta to show prudence in legal action instigated against pilots' union ALPA

PN deputy leader Mario de Marco urged the pilots’ union (ALPA} to act responsibly when ordering industrial action, when asked whether they should be allowed to call for a strike.

“They should maintain their right to order industrial action, but must maintain a sense of responsibility when doing so,” the former tourism minister told MaltaToday.

A court last week provisionally upheld a warrant of prohibitory injunction filed by Air Malta against ALPA, in order to prevent the union from ordering any industrial action “that could impede the company’s operations and financial position or effect ongoing negotiations”.

ALPA will contest the injunction in court on Friday, and its president Dominic Azzopardi has already lambasted it as a “clear threat to the right of free association of workers, as well as to their entitlement to safeguard as a last option these rights by resorting to industrial action”.

A few days before the injunction was filed, Azzopardi had warned that pilots were ready to step up industrial action, including delaying flights and going on strike altogether, unless their calls for improved conditions were met.
The current industrial action is limited to a dress-down directive, with pilots refusing to wear their caps and jackets to work.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Tuesday that Air Malta was not trying to clamp down on the rights of pilots to take industrial action, but rather to stop them from taking “disproportionate action that could jeopardise the future of the entire airline”.

“I urge Air Malta to act prudently on such a sensitive issue,” De Marco said about the injunction. “As a former tourism minister, I am fully aware of the importance of Air Malta to the country’s tourism, financial services and manufacturing industries. However, its workers have for a long time now been passing through a period of uncertainty and they should be kept updated on new development.”

After months of speculation, the government in April signed a memorandum of understanding with Alitalia that will see the Italian airline acquire a 49% stake in the ailing Air Malta.
However, Alitalia has warned Air Malta that the entire deal rests on the outcome of its negotiations with the pilots’ union.   

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