The Union of Cabin Crew (UCC) has filed a judicial protest against the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Economy, calling upon them to intervene in the current impasse between the national airline and union members.
The union, which represents 333 cabin crew, has resorted to this urgent legal action after all its efforts, both “formal and informal,” seeking government intervention in the delicate matter, failed.
Letters and emails to the Prime Minister and the relative minister have gone unanswered, pointed out the protesting parties, with Air Malta insisting on pushing forward with its collective redundancies plans, which would slash the cabin crew complement down to 49.
Such a “lack of interest” by the state authorities to intervene at such delicate stage of the impasse, effectively amounted to a clear breach of government’s obligations in terms of a private agreement with the union, signed in August 2016.
By virtue of that agreement, government, as majority shareholder at Air Malta, had guaranteed the job of all cabin crew as well as their take-home pay and allowances.
Moreover, in case of any call for UCC members to be transferred to government entities or departments, fresh negotiations would be undertaken to determine the selection criteria to be employed.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and the significant loss of operation suffered by the airline, Air Malta sought authorisation to impose “extraordinary measures,” including substantial wage cuts in respect of union members.
While the union was consulting with its members, in the hope of finding “an equitable, genuine and real” solution, the airline set in motion the process of collective redundancies, insisting on firing workers “within seven days”.
Although UCC had since voted in favour of the proposal package offered by the airline company, Air Malta insisted on pushing forward with the redundancies, saying that the union had “missed the opportunity” since it had not accepted the measures “immediately within the short term granted”.
Unless the union accepted other measures, such as permanent loss of earnings and permanent changes to the collective agreement, the company was determined to go ahead with its plans.
Lawyers Paul Gonzi and Thomas Bugeja signed the judicial protest on behalf of the UCC.
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