Malta’s employers believe a decision to cut Air Malta’s staff by 50 per cent could prove to be a “win-win” for the government, affected workers and the private sector.

In a statement on Saturday, the Malta Employers’ Association warned that it would be a mistake to find these workers jobs within the public sector, when they most likely have skills that many private companies require.

Employers have long said that companies are feeling the pinch caused by a tight labour market and are struggling to fill vacancies, with problems reportedly exacerbated by the public entities poaching workers from private firms.

The MEA’s calls for Air Malta workers to be absorbed by the private sector echoes a similar request made by the Malta Chamber on Friday. The Chamber had suggested that workers that will be laid off should be “first be considered for secondment to the private sector”.

Air Malta will get rid of around 470 jobs by the summer, with an initial round of voluntary redeployments due to be followed by mandatory transfers. 

All affected workers have been promised alternative jobs and the General Workers’ Union told Times of Malta on Saturday that it was reassured that livelihoods and salaries would not be affected.

In its statement, the MEA said that it would be a mistake to transfer Air Malta workers made redundant to the public sector, “given that the public sector is already overstaffed and such employment will add a further €15m to recurrent expenditure.”

Doing so would also lead to resentment among private sector workers, who end up unemployed in such situations, it said.

Giving such workers jobs in the private sector, on the other hand, “will lead to a win-win situation for everyone involved,” the MEA said, adding that it was willing to help the government redeploy workers into the private sector.

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