European pilots lambast Air Malta injunction against 'fundamental right' to strike

European Cockpit Association claims that Air Malta's injunction to stop pilots' union from striking is 'a clear attack on everybody's freedoms'

An association that represents European pilots has taken Air Malta to task for filing a court injunction to prevent the pilots’ union (ALPA) from ordering a strike.

“We regret Air Malta’s attempt to breach a fundamental right that is recognized by the EU and the council of Europe,” European Cockpit Association president Dirk Polloczek said in a statement. “We trust that Malta’s judicial system will guarantee the fundamental rights and freedoms of trade unions in line with the country’s obligations under national and international law.

“We are lucky to live in democratic countries that are committed to respect fundamental rights; the right to strike is one of those and a key pillar of our democracies. Air Malta’s application to suppress the right to strike should be taken very seriously; it is a clear attack on everybody’s freedoms.

“We urge Air Malta to swiftly withdraw its application and to resume talks with its pilots.”

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”.

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