The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

Watch: Collective agreement reached between Air Malta and Association of Airline Engineers

Julian Bonnici Friday, 24 November 2017, 12:06 Last update: about 3 years ago

The collective agreement between Air Malta and the Association of Airline Engineers (AAE) has been signed, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi announced today.

At a media briefing concerning the collective agreements on 20 September, Mizzi said that all employees will be provided with a total 19% wage increase that would be spread over five years (5%, 1.5%, 5%, 1.5%, 5%).

The rise would see Air Malta's payroll costs increase by €16 million, and in order to fund it, revenue would need to increase by €100 million.

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This is the first collective agreement to be signed, with two separate agreements with GWU (concerning the hiving-off agreement of Ground handling services), an agreement with the Pilots Association, and an agreement with the Cabin Crew Union (UCC) yet to reached.

Speaking a press conference within a hangar at the airport,  Mizzi expressed his satisfaction that the agreement had been signed and said that the agreements will not stabilise industrial relations for the next five years, but will also ensure continuous improvements and research into further expansion.

“We have a fair deal,” Mizzi said.

With regards to the remaining collective agreements, Mizzi said that talks were ongoing and reiterated his stance that the agreements were vital in ensuring solvency and potential profitability in the near future.

Asked by The Malta Independent to expand further on the remaining negotiations and whether he believed all four will be signed by his December deadline, Mizzi remained positive, revealing that a UCC vote on the negotiations will take place next week after two separate sessions took place over the previous week; and that members of the union were currently reflecting on the offer.

 

“We have had our final discussion with the committee, and now the employees are going through a period of reflection, to better understand the process and complexities involved. We support all the unions in having better communication with employees, to explain the proposal. Our intent is to actually meet and brief all the employees before the vote is undertaken,” Mizzi said.

On negotiations with ALPA, the Minister said that the process in which First Officers and Captains were invited to Air Malta offices to examine the specific changes to their own personal conditions was finally completed.

“We will be continuing negotiations over the next couple of weeks and I am confident that we will have five collective agreements signed by the end of December,” he said.

The new agreement will see pilots and cabin crew, in particular, would be subject to working increased and more flexible hours.

Cabin Crew, for example, would see a reduction from five to four staff on every flight; while pilots would be expected to fly for 12hr shifts rather than 10.

 

The stumbling block in discussions between ALPA and the airline appears to be over the union’s belief that the proposed wage package does not reflect the change in conditions, and was a pay-cut even though it appeared to offer an increase.

The minister also revealed that a new airplane, an Airbus A320, which is the flagship aircraft of the airline, will be added to the fleet in March or April next year.

Air Malta Chairman Charles Mangion said this was a “landmark” agreement given that it was the first to be signed. He also said that it will ensure flexibility and productivity, while also offering an improvement in the workers’ conditions.

“I am convinced that together, with the support of the minister and a strong strategy, we are going to create more opportunities, for both present and future generations,” Mangion said.

President of AAE Charles Azzopardi said that the majority of the association's  members supported the agreement after they were assured throughout  the negotiations that the sector would remain a vital part of the company’s operations.

Photos: Michael Camilleri

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