Air Malta workers to receive the same percentage pay rise

Prime Minister says it is now time for unions to make their decisions and reach agreement with the government, whose vision is to make Air Malta the airline of the Mediterranean

The government has a vision to make Air Malta the airline of the Mediterranean, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in parliament today
The government has a vision to make Air Malta the airline of the Mediterranean, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in parliament today

Air Malta is undergoing the changes that it needs to rectify its financial situation and only after this is concluded will a decision on a strategic partnership be taken, Joseph Muscat said.

The Prime Minister was speaking in Parliament this morning in the budget debate covering his office.

Touching on Air Malta, he said the government wanted to ensure employee work conditions finalised before concluding any partnership negotiations.

"Once these conditions are set these would not be changed during negotiations [with a strategic partner] and they will remain the same for the long term," Muscat said.

The Prime Minister made no mention of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder despite the Opposition leader having called on him earlier to shoulder political responsibility for what happened. Instead, Muscat chose to present a number of decisions, which the government had taken regarding the national airline and other issues.

Muscat said the company had to expand, noting that a new plane and new routes were added. However, for this expansion to be sustainable, an agreement had to be reached amongst all the social partners, the trade unions and stakeholders, Muscat said, appealing to trade unions to work towards consensus.

Muscat also made it clear that the government would be guaranteeing work for all Air Malta employees and they would all be based in Malta, alleviating concerns that some would be sent to work abroad. This guarantee could only be realised, however, if an agreement was reached between the government and airline employees, he added.

All expired collective agreements will be renegotiated and new ones will come into force as from 2018. Muscat said government's vision was to make Air Malta not only Malta’s national airline, but the airline of the Mediterranean.

Workers will all be offered a pay rise, which will be the same percentage across the board.

Moreover, employees will be given an option of choosing their best paid year out of the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and receive the pay rise percentage on that year’s salary.

Lastly, Muscat explained that retirement schemes would be offered to the airline’s workers, all of which would be based on the same formula.

“We believe nobody and nothing can stop Air Malta,” he said, calling on workers’ representatives to now make their decisions.

Speaking about people with serious disabilities who were unable to work, Muscat announced that the government would in the next four years increasing their allowance.

The increase for next year will be of €20 a week, bringing the total to €140 a week. The government aims to bring this disability benefit up to the same level as the country’s minimum wage, and it was hoping this would be done by the next budget or the one after that.

The government would also be increasing the range on the Barthel disability index (a scale used to measure daily performance) used in the calculation of disability allowances. The purpose of this is for more people to be able to benefit from the severe disability allowance.

People suffering from terminal illnesses would also be getting an invalidity pension, irrespective of how much national insurance contributions they had paid. For single people, the allowance will range between €100-€120, and €106-€144 for married persons.

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