A confederation of Maltese trade unions is calling on Robert Abela to intervene in the dispute between Air Malta and Union of the Cabin Crew over wage cuts imposed as a result of the COVID-19 slowdown.

The union had initially refused the airline’s offer of a monthly salary of €1,200 for a four-week period, but accepted the deal belatedly. The change in position came in the wake of the airline’s decision to lay off 139 of its members and not renew the contract of a further 145 employees.

Though Air Malta welcomed the development, it warned that this could not be enough at this stage. It said the union had only accepted the offer after missing multiple deadlines.

According to Air Malta, the union only decided to put its proposal to the members when it learnt about the redundancies.

Pilots' union still holding out

All trade unions have now agreed to the proposal, except the pilots' union who are insisting they are willing to take a pay cut but not as extreme as the proposal. The union also claimed that members of the senior company management were not taking the same level of wage cuts.

However, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri later announced Air Malta CEO Clifford Chetcuti had taken a 70 per cent pay cut and waived all perks.  

In a statement issued on Monday morning, Forum Unions Maltin, which comprises a group of trade unions, called on the national carrier to tread carefully as the jobs of hundreds of employees were at stake.

“Now that the Union of the Cabin Crew had accepted the offer without any conditions, Air Malta should act responsibly and implement the conditions which it said would be adopting in case of an agreement, with effect from April 7,” Forum said.

Long-term solution needed

Forum said it was willing to act as a mediator to break the deadlock and urged Prime Minister Robert Abela to intervene.    

Air Malta argues that a longer solution is required both from UCC but also from the pilots’ union to have the peace of mind that it would not find itself in the same position, or worse, in the next weeks or months.

The airline said it was willing to discuss and agree on a "deep process" of restructuring of a permanent nature intended to agree on a package which would ensure the company’s long-term future after the end of the pandemic.

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