The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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GWU says negotiations with Malta Air to save jobs of 40 cabin crew members at a ‘crucial point’

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 20 December 2020, 08:30 Last update: about 4 years ago

Negotiations between the General Workers’ Union and Malta Air (a subsidiary of the Ryanair Group) over the future of 40 of the airline’s cabin crew have reached a ‘crucial point’, the General Workers’ Union (GWU) told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Members of the cabin crew at Malta Air spoke with this newsroom making a number of claims. Among other things, they said that 40 cabin crew could be made redundant in Malta on 1 January 2021, and that Malta Air has provided crew members with a take it or leave it agreement, “without any proper negotiation with our representatives, using redundancies as a threat to obtain a 4 year pay cut deal as per their cost savings plan on our already low pay.” They also claimed that the government supplement has not been paid as stated by law.

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The crew said they were being legally represented by the GWU.

The Malta Independent on Sunday sent a number of questions to Ryanair, asking the airline, among other things: to confirm that Malta Air might lay off 40 cabin crew; asking about the take it or leave it offer for a pay cut and what is being offered to the crew; and about the allegation that the government wage supplement has not been paid as stated by law to the crew.

Ryanair responded and said that “Malta Air invited the GWU union to negotiate an Emergency Agreement which resulted in a number of meetings taking place throughout November and December. Those meetings culminated on Thursday evening in a 4-year agreement between GWU and Malta Air covering moderate pay cuts (restored over the term of the agreement), productivity improvements and jobs protection. The GWU will now recommend acceptance of this agreement by a ballot of members, and if delivered will remove the requirement for immediate job losses at our Malta base”.

Questions to the GWU focused on the information passed on to this newsroom by the crew. The union also confirmed that it will put the agreement to a vote by these employees.

The GWU’s Secretary General Josef Bugeja confirmed that the GWU is the sole recognised union representing Cabin Crew and Cabin Crew Supervisors at Malta Air. “Around 90% of the two grades joined the General Workers’ Union back in May. We don’t represent the ground handling staff nor the pilots. In May, we requested the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations to initiate the recognition process as per law. During the recognition process the company was very resistant to grant us recognition and tried to prolong the process as much as possible. Soon after the request for recognition, the company gave notice of redundancy to a number of cabin crew. Once the process was finalised we entered into discussions with the company to avert redundancies, something which we did successfully. Since June we had been in communication with the company on the future of the employees and the long-term plans after the pandemic.”

Bugeja said that recently the company, once again, informed the union that it will either reduce the salaries and allowances or it will terminate the jobs of 40 cabin crew members. “The GWU’s Deputy Secretary General Kevin Camilleri and officials from the GWU – Maritime and Aviation Section are engaged in intense discussion with the company.”

Asked about the government supplement and about another allegation made by the crew, that the airline decided to deduct money from its crew’s basic salary, he confirmed that some of the employees “informed us that they did not received the full government supplement and also saw a decrease in allowance. We immediately brought the issue to the attention of the company, who completely denied it. So we proceeded to declare an industrial dispute about this issue and other similar issues. Since we don’t have access to all the employees’ pay slips, we reported the issue to the competent authorities to investigate the deductions.”

The GWU’s Secretary General said that due to GDPR regulations, “we don’t have access to the result of the investigation but we are informed that investigations are ongoing. This is not the first time that we raised issues related to salaries, rosters and allowances. Furthermore, over these last couple of months, the discussions with the company intensified as we are trying to avoid redundancies and agree to a long-term agreement in these unprecedented times.”

Asked about, among other things, the take-it-or-leave-it offer and the potential redundancies, he said that the union was contacted by the company to either accept a reduction in pay and allowance for 5 years or else a number of cabin crew will be made redundant. “We immediately entered into negotiations to find a suitable agreement and I can also confirm that negotiations are currently at a very crucial point. Something that we are demanding is that we need reassurances that no redundancies are declared. Communications between our members is constant as we try to find solutions to the current crisis and safeguard each and every job.”

 

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