The airline said it has been negotiating with these two unions in good faith for months and had not been able to conclude an agreement on a package of measures to support the airline’s restructuring.
Air Malta Chief Executive, Peter Davies said, “We have been trying to reach an agreement for months and the lack of agreement is now holding up the restructuring of the airline. So now we are going to explain the proposed restructuring agreements, including the redundancy scheme details, directly to our staff so that when they do vote through their union, they have all the information they need to take an informed decision.” Mr Davies added that, notwithstanding the fact that negotiations with these unions are at an impasse, the unions’ executives have nonetheless agreed to take the package of measures to their members albeit without endorsement from them.
Air Malta said it would invite its staff to attend information sessions as early as next week. “We want the employees to know what the company’s offer is, what their future is, and the consequences of not agreeing to the package of change measures,” said Mr Davies. He added, “We have put a lot of effort into getting fair and reasonable payout schemes for staff so they can be properly compensated for their loss of employment – the offers we have proposed are generous and treat people fairly. In return, we have requested improved work practices and efficiencies – such as rosters that support our flight schedule. Everyone needs to understand that we are in the service industry. Our customers expect that and we must fly at their convenience, not ours”.
The Company has indicated that if the packages being offered are not accepted by employees, through their unions, then there would be no option but to withdraw these packages and the necessary headcount reduction would have to be achieved by following the statutory redundancy procedures and payments. This course of action has been fully endorsed by the Board of Directors.
Mr Davies added, “We don’t want to go down this path, we really don’t, but we have no other option. We had earmarked the 1st August as the date on which the schemes would be issued. We could have accelerated the process but the Company was responsible enough and willing to extend the negotiations by over three more months to get the best possible package for our employees. We have to implement the restructuring measures to turn the airline around and we cannot afford to delay matters any longer.”
The airline indicated that some of the issues that could not be agreed upon demonstrated that some people have not yet realised the dire state the airline is in and that it must change to survive.
The airline highlighted that the changes in rostering, reduced staffing levels, new duties and responsibilities and the cost saving measures included in the proposed agreements with the unions need to be implemented. Mr Davies added, “Employees need to understand that a ‘no vote’ will force the Company to take alternative measures to turn the airline’s performance around.”
The Company indicated that this did not apply to the Engineering Union executive with whom an agreement in principle has been reached. Mr Davies stated, “We have reached an agreement in principle with the Engineers’ Union executive and they will be taking it to their members to vote on shortly. They understand the need for change and greater efficiency and the agreement makes our high quality engineering operations even more efficient”. In relation to the pilots the Company indicated that there was an awareness of the need for change and recent discussions were moving in the right direction
Source: Air Malta