Air Malta’s pilots are still not satisfied with what the national airline and the government have put on the table in the ongoing negotiations for a new collective agreement.
Despite the clock ticking for the government’s plans to wrap up all negotiations on outstanding collective agreements by the year’s end, it seems Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and his team will need to make an extra effort to meet the deadline.
Aviation industry sources said so far the pilots are not impressed with the airline’s offer, both with regards to increases in their take-home pay and work conditions.
“So far there is no agreement, as the pilot’s union is insisting on better pay increases and conditions,” the sources said.
“Though the pilots are considered to be among the best-paid employees on the island and the general impression is that they always want more, this time round the biggest stumbling block is not about money but about conditions,” the sources said.
When contacted yesterday, a spokesman for ALPA – the pilots’ association – confirmed that negotiations were still ongoing. However, he did not wish to provide any details.
On the other hand, sources said that although the management was insisting that it was giving pilots a substantial salary over the next five years, in reality, it was not really an increase, as pilots would be flying much more than they are doing now.
It is true that increases are being offered, but pilots will have to work much more
“It is true that increases are being offered, however pilots will have to work much more to earn their pay,” the sources said.
“On the other hand, the work conditions will be drastically changed, and the pilots argue that they have already conceded enough. The government is now insisting on limiting the amount of leave pilots can take, particularly during summer, and most of the pilots are resisting this,” the sources added.
This newspaper is informed that neither the pilots nor the airline have ruled out that a compromise may be found in the coming days, early enough to hold an extraordinary general ALPA conference to endorse the agreement before the end of the year.
Political pressure on the pilots to accept the deal is increasing, with the Prime Minister also stepping in.
Addressing a political activ-ity on Sunday, Joseph Muscat warned pilots that failure to agree “would jeopardise the future of the national carrier”.
A few weeks ago, the Times of Malta revealed that banks wanted the airline to conclude talks with all unions before they can green-light new credit facilities based on a new business plan.
The four collective agreements which the airline wishes to conclude will cost it an additional €16 million.
However, the airline is hoping to increase its revenue by €100 million over the five-year period, in order to make up for the increases and return to the black.
So far the airline has signed new collective agreements with its engineers, cabin crew and ground staff.
According to the latest acc-ounts, Air Malta posted a loss of €13 million by March 2017.
Dr Mizzi has promised a full turnaround in the company’s finances – such that it will break even by March 2018.
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