Clyde Caruana flooded with Air Malta discrimination claims

Some ground handlers promoted while awaiting transfer onto government books

 

The government, along with the General Workers Union, is being accused of “blatant discrimination” in an ongoing exercise to transfer hundreds of Air Malta’s ground handling staff onto government books, in the latest of a series of ‘restructuring exercises’ aimed at saving the national airline from bankruptcy.

Various ground handlers, who have been working for Air Malta for decades, told The Shift that they have just discovered that some of their colleagues were given a ‘secret’ promotion before the last elections, which meant their take-home pay increased just before their transfer onto government books.

“This means that while we are being sent to government departments on the same pay we have, some of our colleagues, with good political connections, were given promotions to increase their pay once they join the government’s books,” they claimed.

“For example, a ground handler with much less seniority than us, was given two promotions this year and is now working as a messenger in a government department with a basic pay of some 35,000 a year, almost as much as his director earns,” they explained.

The Shift has learned that both Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, who is handling the transfer exercise, and GWU senior officials have been informed about several of the cases, though nothing has been done.

“This is blatant discrimination, apart from the abuse of taxpayers’ funds,” one disgruntled ground handler said.

“There is also the law which dictated equal pay for equal work. However, the GWU has thrown all its principles out of the window a long time ago,” another ground handler lamented.

The issue began around five years when then Air Malta Minister Konrad Mizzi and the GWU announced that they’d reached an agreement that would see the loss-making ground handling section of Air Malta hived off to another government company.

 

September 2017 – news that was never implemented

 In January 2018, Air Malta Aviation Services, which is fully owned by the government, was incorporated. 

However, the planned transfer of some 400 ground handlers was never carried out and the company has remained inactive since then. All ground handling staff remained on Air Malta books, with Minister Clyde Caruana last January admitted that his predecessor did not follow through with the implementation of the 2017 announcement.

In the meantime, while the government claimed that Air Malta was losing some 177,000 a day, more and more workers were added to its ground handling department, increasing the company’s financial losses.

Launching a new Voluntary Employment Transfer Scheme, Caruana said last January that all ground handlers would now be given a government job, ‘saving’ Air Malta some 15million in wages while passing the burden onto taxpayers.

Asked by The Shift to explain how many ground handlers have been transferred so far through this scheme, Minister Caruana has refused to give any details.

He has also declined to state how many promotions were given to the prospective beneficiaries in the interim.

The Shift is informed that while the transfer exercise has now finally started, ground handling employees are being put on the books of Engineering Resources Ltd – another government company – and not being moved to the company opened by Mizzi in 2017, supposedly to take over the ground handling operations of Air Malta.

The Shift reported on 18 May that Air Malta, despite being in financial trouble, is forming a joint venture with an Italian company to start ground handling operations. However, none of its current employees will be transferred to the new business venture and foreign workers will instead be imported to fill the necessary positions.

Another failed company

Research by The Shift shows that since its inception in January 2018, Air Malta Aviation Services Limited has never operated, bar making payments to its politically appointed directors.

According to its latest published accounts, which run to mid-2019, the company made a loss of 252,000, mostly on directors’ remuneration which amounted to over 170,000.

The only employees of the company were the three directors

The 30-year-old niece of former Minister Jose’ Herrera, Martina, was one of the selected directors together with Mark Aquilina from Siggiewi and Dominic Chircop from Naxxar.

According to its financial statement, signed by Labour’s auditors RSM, the company only employed three people rather than the 400 announced by Konrad Mizzi.

Engineering Resources Ltd, the new employer of the ground handlers, doesn’t offer much reassurance to the ground handlers’ about their future. 

While the company doesn’t perform any productive activity, other than distributing ‘re-deployed’ personnel to other government entities, it is being run like a Labour Party club.

Its board of directors comprises Joseph Camenzuli, Labour’s official photographer and now director of companies related to accused kidnapper Christian Borg; Kelly Cesare a canvasser of Labour MP Deo Debattista; Kevin Chircop the politically appointed chairman of Enemed; William Lewis, Labour’s organising secretary; Alessandro Lia, Labour’s lawyer; Alex Scerri Herrera, the son of former Minister Herrera; and Rachel Debono, the personal assistant of former Labour CEO James Piscopo.

                           
                               
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Francis Said
Francis Said
3 days ago

Everything done above board and in total transparency. Ha!
Well done PL. This was a promise of the election in 2013, continuity at it’s worse.
What a shame of what should not be done in a supposedly Democratic Country.
Putin type of autocracy.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
3 days ago

Remember, there are not only laws for the gods and others for the animals. There are also grades of remuneration and appeasement.

carlo
carlo
2 days ago

muvument that makes everything upside down – from the list above it appears that the people of trust get double the amount of that given to employees – corruption all the way and then they want the EU to help. The more money the EU gives, the greater the corruption.

Marjo
Marjo
2 days ago

I can’t understand how a messenger with a government department gets to earn Euros 35000, when I’ve been working for more than a quarter of a century with a well known local private manufacturing and engineering company, with loads of responsibilities and I get nowhere near that type of salary. No wonder so many people want to work in the public service.

T. P.
T. P.
2 days ago

It appears that Airmalta is replacing Malta Drydocks

Charles Camilleri
Charles Camilleri
1 day ago
Reply to  T. P.

In a way it is. But while this Govt is assigning these workers to Govt Depts, to continue burdening the taxpayer, the Nats Govt offered the MDD workers a package deal with many of them finding new jobs in the private sector or as self employed.

makjavel
makjavel
1 day ago

Now the Air Malta Labour employed will find out that there are “the friends” and the rest. Clyde Caruana has the job of finding the money to pay their wages , but he is already €10,000 million in the RED. Maybe Konrad can open his treasure chest and provide their daily bread. Konrad’s Kitchen .
Karl Stagno Navarra , has been taken care off ok. He has been planted in the OHSA , as Official for Hate Speech Accreditation.

KD Far
KD Far
39 minutes ago

Persons appointed on boards should be at least qualified by a first degree, experienced in the sector and preferably academic.

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