Employers warn of ‘potential harm’ of industrial actions

The Malta Employers’ Association warns of potential ‘irreparable harm’ caused by industrial action, urges ‘calm restraint’ in Air Malta impasse

The Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) has warned that drastic industrial action “may, in particular instances, cause irreparable harm to a company, with dire consequences.”

“Irreparable harm too may be caused when Unions, as it is within their right, resort to partial industrial action,” a statement by the association reads.

The statement adds that an Employer too, in such circumstances, may react to defend his interests, and that it is also the duty of an Employer to commercially responsibly manage a company.

The MEA added however that it has absolutely no objection to the recent Court ruling confirming Unions’ right to strike.

“Fundamental issues, in the industrial field, like the right to strike, should not be questioned on the basis of obvious economic damage that may derive. It is up to the Unions to responsibly utilise the drastic and powerful strike weapon,” the association said.

Last week, a request by Air Malta for the court to issue a prohibitory injunction against the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) was turned down after the Constitutional Court found that the airline had not proven its arguments sufficiently according to the law.

Air Malta had asked for an injunction to stop the union taking strike action in its dispute with the airline, claiming that any industrial action now – while Air Malta was in talks with Alitalia for the sale of 49% of its shares – “would be disastrous”.

In its statement, the MEA went on to stress that the current industrial impasse at Air Malta should be handled by the Unions with “calm restraint” and by the Employer “with an engaging, open and informed dialogue.”

“It is to be kept in mind that Air Malta is not just about the Company’s employees.”

The association added that Unions must make an objective assessment of the ultimate possible harm, including Company closures and job losses, that a strike action, under critical circumstances, may cause.

“It is up to the Unions to determine what objectives they set and what price they are determined to pay to achieve them. The right to strike is balanced by a right of Employers to effect lock-outs, and in both instances no wages are payable for the duration of such actions.”

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