ALPA must also be accountable for its actions – Air Malta

The airline said it would continue to safeguard its interests for the benefit of the country and the economy

Air Malta has responded claims by its pilots’ union (ALPA), that the airline is attempting to undermine its members’ freedom of association, insisting that it would continue to safeguard its interests for the benefit of the country.

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.

The latest dispute erupted shortly after the announcement that a Ryanair subsidiary had been set up in Malta, an announcement that was widely perceived as setting the government up to eventually replace Air Malta, despite the fact that it has no control over the airline.  

ALPA said yesterday that through the court case, the airline was attempting to dissuade the union from insisting on the observance of the rights deriving from the Collective Agreement currently in force.

“Despite seeking to portray this as some sort of vindictive act by the airline, ALPA is very well aware that these proceedings are a continuation of the injunction proceedings, which must be followed by proceedings on the merits of the claim,” Air Malta said on Thursday.

ALPA, it said, had been warned multiple times that the airline would not tolerate threats and abuse, and would seek to protect its rights and interest for the benefit of the country and its economy. “ALPA, like any other, is accountable for its actions.”

The airline emphasised that, as far as it was concerned, an agreed position had been reached on all matters that ALPA had raised. “In fact, Air Malta accepted, and is still waiting to sign, the proposed agreement sent to it by ALPA on the 29 June 2019.”

“The company reiterates that the real issue was that ALPA was insisting on the government to agree on guaranteeing a retirement pay-out of €700,000 per pilot. Such guarantees are being asked from the airline’s shareholder – the government of Malta – and thus are not the prerogrative of Air Malta,” Air Malta said.

It added that the “position of the shareholder not to provide such guarantees was also very clear”.