Updated | Pilots vote in favour of industrial action

The vote was called over what the union described as serious threats and intimidation against an Air Malta employee by a senior manager • Air Malta seeks court injunction against pilots' union

Members of Air Malta’s pilot’s union, ALPA, have unanimously voted in favour of authorising industrial action in a vote on Sunday afternoon.

91% of the union’s members voted in favour of industrial action, after it claimed that an Air Malta employee and ALPA member was seriously threatened and intimidated by a senior manager.

According to media reports, the threats were made during an clash between Air Malta’s Flight Operations chief requested Air Malta operations manuals from a first officer earlier this week.

ALPA requested authorisation from its members to commence industrial action proceedings including a possible withdrawal of service.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the government would not be blackmailed by pilots, who are currently negotiating a new collective agreement with the airline. 

"I am here to protect pilots who want to work and to protect all other Air Malta workers. But most of all I am here to serve the people and to safeguard Malta’s economy,” Muscat said, adding that the government had a back-up plan in case an agreement could not be reached. 

Air Malta’s pilots are the only section of employees that have not yet agreed terms over a new agreement with the company.

MaltaToday revealed on Sunday that the company had offered its pilots an basic salary increase equivalent to 19.3% over five years.

Tourism minister Konrad Mizzi has repeatedly said that the company needs all employees to agree to new flexible working conditions if the airline is to stand a chance of surviving.

Air Malta seeks court injunction

Meanwhile, on Sunday evening the airline sought a court injunction against the pilots' union, holding it responsible for damages any action on their part could cause the airline.

The airline said earlier this week a conflict arose between the chief officer flight operations and the publications officer, both pilots, after the former asked for the flight manuals. The publications officer "refused" to pass on the flight manuals, which are the airline's property, Air Malta said in a statement.

It described the pilots' actions as "disproportionate".

Government reacts

In a statement this evening, the government said it was willing to take all necessary legal steps to safeguard the interests of the airline and the  people of Malta. The governmen said the package offered to pilots was "fair and just" and urged pilots to close talks on the collective agreement so that the airline could embark on its new growth startegy.

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