Cabin crew union to take industrial action after talks break down with minister

Tourism minister says cabin crew union met today with airline management but stormed out of meeting

The minister for tourism Edward Zammit Lewis has said that the national airline’s Union of Cabin Crew (UCC) has filed industrial action with Air Malta, which is to take place as from midnight of tomorrow, 20 August.

Zammit Lewis said in a statement that UCC representatives stormed out of a meeting, one of several held with various unions these last days.

“We told the union, and committed in writing, that their demands would be met as long as targets of productivity, efficiency and flexibility are met, which are so crucial for the airline to have a guaranteed future and to stay commercially viable.

“Without any explanation, the UCC representatives upped and left the meeting.”

Zammit Lewis said the government’s door was still open to the UCC but he deplored the union’s “irresponsible” action and industrial action in the peak of the summer.

“The union knows the damage of this action will be irreparable. The UCC’s action is not an honourable one for its members.

“We will take all measures necessary not to allow anyone to damage the national airline and our tourism industry.”

The Union of Cabin Crew’s announcement of industrial came a day after the government reached an agreement with the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) following lengthy negotiations over a new collective agreement.

In a joint statement issued shortly after the agreement was reached, the tourism minister and ALPA stated the agreement reached safeguarded the interests of the government, as the majority shareholder in Air Malta, and of all the pilots as well as safeguarding the future of the airline itself.

ALPA president Dominic Azzopardi had last week told MaltaToday that pilots would no longer report to work when called for duty on their days off, and that an end date for the industrial action has not yet been set.

Air Malta had postponed negotiations on new collective agreements until 31 August, when it expects to have concluded discussions on its business plan with Alitalia, who are posed to take over 49% of the national airline’s shares.

However, Dominic Azzopardi said that workers have a right to know certain details within the business plan, such as whether the fleet will be downsized and whether any of them will be laid off.

He had dismissed tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis’ promise not to leave any Air Malta employees unemployed, arguing that pilots are seeking reassurances of their future in their specific careers. “If Malta had a large military service, then perhaps some pilots could find jobs in the army’s air force, but that is not the case. Does he expect pilots to work as secretaries in government departments? It’s insulting.”

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