Air Malta standoff: Union body says airline undermining pilots’ freedom of association

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The Malta Pilots’ Union has accused national carrier Air Malta of initiating legal proceedings against it to undermine their freedom of association and negotiate on behalf of the staff.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Union stated: “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 standoff between Air Malta and Union escalated earlier in June when the latter voted in favour of delaying the flights by 30 minutes as an industrial action against the failure of the government to fulfil their demands.

The Union has been demanding that an early retirement scheme for the pilots which will guarantee a €700,000 payout lest the airline fails.

Friction between the airline and union began after the government announced the launch of the low-cost airline by RyanAir in Malta which will be named Malta Air.

As a response, the Airline filed a petition in the court in June demanding that the industrial action by employees be declared illegal. In addition, it also sought damages from the union and committee members.

The warrant for prohibitory action was upheld by the court temporarily on July 1 and was then confirmed on July 23 to the employee’s chagrin.

“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,” the ALPA statement said.

Stating that it will continue to protect the rights of its members, the union has announced that it will an Extraordinary General Meeting to decide on the way forward.