Air Malta’s court action ‘undermining pilots’ freedom of association’, union says

ALPA said it would be calling an Extraordinary General Meeting to decide on a way forward

Malta’s pilots’ union has accused Air Malta of initiating court proceedings against it in an attempt to undermine its ability to negotiate on behalf of its members.

“These judicial proceedings represent yet another attempt at undermining our members’ freedom of association and their liberty to conduct negotiations in their best interests, as well as at dissuading them from insisting on the observance of the rights deriving from the collective agreement in force,” the union said in a statement on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Air Malta filed a court application in which it is asking the court to declare that industrial action ordered by the union at the end of June, as illegal and in breach of its collective agreement with pilots.

The airline is also seeking damages from union and its committee members.

At the end of June, the union’s members had voted in favour of delaying flights by 30 minutes, after the government failed to offer the union a guarantee that an early retirement scheme guaranteeing a €700,000 payout at retirement would be retained should the airline fail.

A warrant of prohibitory injunction filed by Air Malta to stop the industrial action was temporarily upheld on the 1 July and subsequently confirmed on 23 July.

In its application, the airline said it new “for a fact” that the reason behind the industrial action was that the union and its members were expecting guarantee from the government about their pay.

On the other hand, the union has claimed that the action was taken over a dispute about threats and intimidation by Air Malta’s chief of flight operations in April this year.

“ALPA reiterates that negotiations relating to the amendment of the Collective Agreement which is currently in force had failed due to the continued involvement of the Chief Flight Operations Officer, Mr Emvic Debono, as well as his intimidation of our members,” read the statement.

ALPA added that it would be “protecting its members’ prerogatives by resorting to the appropriate legal channels in order to restore the necessary equilibrium”, which it said was fundamental to every employment relationship.

The union said it would be calling an Extraordinary General Meeting to decide on the way forward.

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