Government secretly renegotiating scheme promised to hundreds of Air Malta employees

Hundreds signed up for the Voluntary Employment Transfer Scheme (VETS) that promised them a new job, but now the finance minister wants to change the terms of the deal.

 

The government is secretly negotiating a massive u-turn on its pre-electoral promise to hundreds of soon-to-be redundant workers at Air Malta, dealing with the General Workers Union (GWU) behind closed doors to renegotiate the package.

The Shift can reveal that Finance Minister Clyde Caruana and Air Malta Executive Chairman David Curmi are discussing the possibility of offering the employees who signed up for the Voluntary Employment Transfer Scheme (VETS) a pay-out to resign and leave instead of being given a government job until retirement.

Despite the highly publicised scheme before the March elections, the government is now finding it challenging to implement the promise made to 577 Air Malta employees to transfer them onto the government payroll.

Minister Caruana has already discussed his plan with the GWU, but the union – the largest representing Air Malta employees – has not yet informed its members of the government’s new plan.

Documents and correspondence seen by The Shift confirm these developments.

The difficulties encountered include the fact that most of the Air Malta employees who signed up for the scheme have financial packages that are far higher than public service employees. This could lead to claims of discrimination which could be deemed illegal if challenged.

The same scheme is complicating ongoing negotiations with the European Commission on a new €290 million state aid package for the ailing national airline, as the government’s jobs intervention is deemed to be state aid and in breach of fair competition rules.

So far, no announcements have been made on Finance Minister Caruana’s plan to change the VETS scheme into an early retirement scheme as the government is trying to convince the GWU to get on board.

Minister Caruana last year said the government had applied for the EU’s consent to another state aid package. In return, he said that the airline, which he described as financially unsustainable, was to shed the ground handling operations and transfer half of its workforce onto the public payroll, at some €15 million a year.

In a rush before the last elections, the same minister issued the VETS scheme encouraging all those who wanted to leave the airline to get an alternative government job. They were given a few weeks to apply.

Close to 600 employees applied for the scheme. Yet so far, only a handful have been transferred to other jobs.

Only 12 employees have been transferred, one of them being Karl Stagno Navarra, a former PN propagandist turned Labour, who was given a  job at the Occupational Health and Safety Authority despite only having a three-year contract with Air Malta. Other employees who have served Air Malta for decades were not prioritised.

Air Malta has been facing financial problems since a state aid package tied to a restructuring exercise approved by the EU in 2012 failed. While disgraced former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi had announced a financial turnaround in 2018, this was nothing more than a creative accounting exercise.

Brussels has not green-lighted these plans despite ongoing discussions for more than a year.

                           
                               
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viv
viv
22 days ago

Well well well, priorities to the bootlickers, snubs to the workers! So much for labour…

Joseph
Joseph
22 days ago
Reply to  viv

Yes so much for labour. They conned us before the election but we will not forget.
Our votes will be double because next time we will not vote labor and we will not abstain but we will all vote PN.
Our children are treated like garbage by people who have already been given an alternative job with salaries they don’t deserve. That is now the labor that is not tal haddiem.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
22 days ago

I never understood actions similar to golden hand-shakes or fervent guarantees to workers, permitting them to retain same financial packages when placed in alternative jobs. This is a nasty form of discrimination against those workers who can only dream to benefit from such an opportunity. But to secure votes, politicians are ready to take follow all possible types of corrupt practices. Shame on you again Minister Caruana, who is now part of this ruthless clique.

KLAUS
KLAUS
22 days ago

Honestly, has the ROBBER Abela kept any promise at all?

The PL (political looters) secretly plunders the state coffers, has lackeys at the TV stations working for them and the police commissioner Angelo Galá has also just taken his money from the bank.

Once again, it’s the poorest who have to pay the price. Poor Malta.

D M Briffa
D M Briffa
22 days ago

Might as well enjoy the spectacle, as I can’t control the outcome. I’m going to enjoy watching Labour try to control an economy that is like a bus fully loaded with passengers going downhill with failed brakes. And Labour not only designed the braking system, but had a chance to service it, and replace certain key defective parts, four years later.

Yes, the outcome isn’t going to be good. But, as 55% of those passengers took a gamble when they paid for their tickets, am I bothered? Yes, a bit. Some of them won’t have known what they voted for. But most will. And I have no problem with the idea of ‘pay-back time’. Even if it means that I will be punished too, because we are all in this together.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
22 days ago

THE PL GOVERNMENT HAS RUN INTO A CUL-DE-SAC.
BECAUSE IT IS VASTLY INEXPERIENCED AND UNFIT
TO RUN THE COUNTRY.

Lius
Lius
22 days ago

but why, have you ever seen something legal in Malta?

makjavel
makjavel
22 days ago

Labour Government hoodwinked them, but buttered KSN bread instead. The government is BROKE. This is the fact.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
22 days ago

I had commented that the ‘turnaround’ was nothing but creative accounting, factoring in the sale of the landing slots, to achieve a surplus.
I must however emphasise, that the company’s directors should be investigated for wrongful trading, which is a criminal act.
This is what happens with private commercial enterprises, however government entities seem to be politically exempted from such charges.

Albert Mamo
Albert Mamo
21 days ago

WHEN YOU HAVE A CORRUPT LABOUR GOVERNMENT, THAT PROMISES DUMB DEALS. MOST PEOPLE WILL FALL INTO THE TRAP. NOW WITH OUR ECONOMY SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL AND THE NATIONAL DEBT GOING THROUGH THE ROOF. OBVIOUSLY, THE BRAKES COME ON. WHO PAYS THE PRICE. THE SUCKERS!!!👎👎👎

Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
21 days ago

If only Dr. George Abela was still acting for the interests of Air Malta workers. That would be a sight to see.

Chris
Chris
21 days ago

” Mal Gvern taf fejn qieghed” this what Prime Minister Robert Abela said why the eloctorate voted for Labour , in the 100 days in Office

Francis Said
Francis Said
21 days ago

Hekk it’s vital for Malta’s wellbeing that Karl Stagno Navarra has been transferred to a cushy job with a government entity!!!!!

Bamboccu
Bamboccu
21 days ago

Din hi biss diskriminazzjoni pura
Jekk 12 gew trasferiti l kumplament iridu jinghataw l istess opportunita’.
Il Gvern issa huwa wkoll fl obbligu li jara li dawk li gew trasferiti qabel b’ingann tal ftuh NewGHCo li ma sehhx jinghataw ukoll l istess trattament ghax il qerq u d diskriminazzjoni minn hemm tnissel u l GWU taf dan pero ghax fil Gvern hemm il Lejber qedha kwieta bla ma tnissel kelma…
Mhux hekk Josef?

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