The Malta Independent 26 May 2019, Sunday

Updated (2): Air Malta pilots overwhelmingly vote for industrial action, airline takes legal action

Sunday, 14 January 2018, 18:13 Last update: about 2 years ago

Nearly all of Air Malta pilots today voted to authorise the union representing them to order industrial action. 

Members of ALPA were asked to vote on the possibility of instituting wide-ranging industrial action that could include a suspension of service. The voted ended today.

More than 90 per cent voted for industrial action - some 110 pilots in favour, with just nine voting against.

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Pilots are the only sector within the national airline not to have reached an agreement with the government over the airline’s restructuring. 

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that the government will not be backed into any corners on the matter.

In a statement, Air Malta said it had filed an urgent warrant of prohibitory injunction in the courts of law.

The airline said that during the week an altercation ensued between the Chief Officer Flight Operations and the Publications Officer, both of whom are pilots. The airline said the latter refused to hand over flight manuals to the chief officer.

These documents are the property of the airline and fall under the exclusive responsibility of the Chief Officer Flight Operations. The airline took note of the altercation between the two without escalating the matter further.

“In the most surprising way, ALPA today held a meeting for its members (and) moved a motion contemplating industrial action against the airline, including the stopping of services provided by the captains and first officers.”

The motion was approved and a few minutes later the airline received a written note of an industrial dispute, which could include industrial action. The episode mentioned earlier does not fall under the category of “industrial dispute” and so no industrial action may be taken based on this particular episode, the airline said.

The action taken by ALPA is disproportionate to the episode that took place, the airline said, and it is being used as a pretext.

The action to be taken by the union will lead to “irreparable damage” to the airline and will cost millions of euros per week, Air Malta said.

Through the legal action taken this evening, the airline is requesting the court to stop the union from taking the action is it threatening.

The government also reacted to the pilots' vote, saying it had a clear vision for the airline's future and had worked for months to conclude agreements with other sectors of the national carrier.

The government will not allow anyone to hinder its work to save the airline, which is an important pillar of the country's economy. In this regard, the government is prepared to take all legal action possible to protect the interests of the country.

The government said it had set up Malta Air Travel to own Air Malta slots at several airports and lease them to the national airline. Its commitment is to see that the employment of Air Malta workers is safeguarded.

The package offered to pilots is fair and just, the government said, and it is important that the issue is sorted quickly.

 

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