Court ruling halts demotions for pilots, but redundancies may go ahead

The court has declared that it cannot stop the termination of employment of 69 Air Malta pilots as the decision had already been taken, but it upheld a request by the pilots’ union ALPA to block demotions of another 30 pilots.

ALPA attempted to stop the redundancies and demotions by requesting an injunction. In a ruling that followed a heated court hearing on Friday, Judge Toni Abela ordered a warrant of prohibitory injunction on demotions, but the court did not uphold the union’s request on redundancies which remain in effect.

Without entering into the merit of whether Air Malta was justified in its actions and whether it acted according to law, as the court said this would be a consideration in a different court procedure, Judge Abela argued that he cannot order an injunction on redundancies as the consequences of the decision had already come into effect.

Yet the court did stop Air Malta from leaving in effect its decision on demotions.

Sources told The Shift that if the pilots’ employment is terminated, the agreement that government has to provide them with their current take home pay may come into effect – an agreement in which taxpayers will foot the bill for an airline struggling to survive.

The Shift had revealed that when Konrad Mizzi was Tourism Minister he had given all Air Malta pilots a take home pay guarantee that is identical to their current pay packages.

The guarantee was made through a side letter that forms part of the pilots’ collective agreement until 2023. The agreement, which was kept hidden, was drafted and negotiated by none other than Prime Minister Robert Abela, who was the airline’s legal consultant at the time.

The agreement signed by Mizzi and Abela would mean that taxpayers will now pay the pilots dismissed a package based on a salary that is superior to that of the pilots that Air Malta retains.

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