Minister threatens to shut down Air Malta if employees don’t accept new pact

In a meeting yesterday, the finance minister told employees to forget the original agreement signed in the run-up to the general elections

 

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana yesterday threatened Air Malta employees with shutting down the airline if they didn’t accept the new terms being offered as the government is attempting to withdraw the agreement signed before the general elections in March.

The Shift is informed that during an eleventh-hour meeting yesterday with representatives of the General Workers Union, representing the majority of workers to be made redundant, Caruana made it clear that the government will not respect the agreement.

Close to 600 Air Malta employees who signed up for the Voluntary Transfer Employment Scheme (VETS) were promised a government job for life matching their current financial packages.

The Shift has revealed that the government is now insisting on a golden handshake instead, offering a golden handshake ranging from €40,000 and €145,000 to different employees to leave their jobs.

Air Malta letter guaranteeing employees government jobs

The minister argued that, despite signed agreements, the take-home pay of most of Air Malta does not fit within the government salary structure. Shifting them to the public payroll would create discrimination since public sector employees at the same level are paid less.

This has raised questions on why the government had not considered this before entering into an agreement with close to 600 employees, leading to suspicions that it was nothing more than a vote-buying exercise.

Several employees who spoke to The Shift vowed they would not be forced to accept redundancy and will not accept a golden handshake instead of the guaranteed job they were offered, in writing, before the general elections.

A senior employee told The Shift: “We did not sign an agreement with a child, but with a senior government minister who laid down his terms in writing. That is why we accepted and even voted for his government to remain in office a few weeks later. Now, if he has second thoughts, it’s his problem. He must stick to his agreement and solve his own problems.”

Through the scheme, the government committed to transferring all the employees who signed up by 11 August.

The employees are warning the GWU not to betray them by reaching some agreement with the government behind their backs.

“This is also the GWU’s fault. Despite previous agreements, it did not insist on their implementation. Instead, some officials were only interested in ensuring their relatives and friends were well taken care of,” another employee said.

A few months ago, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana promised Air Malta employees government jobs.

So far, only a handful of Air Malta employees who applied for the scheme have been given a government job, with the rest now being told that they must forget the original agreement.

One of the lucky few is former PN propagandist turned Labour Karl Stagno Navarra, who, despite having only a three-year definite contract, was given a job at the Occupational Health and Safety Authority.

Other well-connected employees were also transferred to Transport Malta, led by Charles Pace, a former Air Malta pilot who was paid a half a million euro in a golden handshake (from a previous scheme) before being given a new government job.

During a heated meeting held with unions and employees a few weeks ago, Air Malta Chairman David Curmi described the VETS agreement as just “a piece of paper” (biċċa karta), according to some present at the meeting.

A few days after, Air Malta told the same employees that they had to remain on the airline’s books until the end of September.

Since then, plans have changed again, with the government reneging on its agreement.

In the meantime, Air Malta has kept under wraps an agreement it has already entered into with an Italian company to set up a new ground handling operation. Instead of keeping its employees, a new Air Malta company will ‘import’ all the necessary human resources from other countries where workers accept lower wages.

                           
                               
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Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
14 days ago

It seems that the art of protecting the jobs and conditions of Air Malta employees skips a generation.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
14 days ago

I agree 100% that positive discrimination should stop. It is simply unheard of, to even think to put on the Gov’s pay roll hundreds of workers with excessive salaries when compared to those enjoyed in the public administration, simply because they are Air Malta employees or as if they are God’s gift to Earth. Find them a job in the private sector instead, where they can be truly productive.
However, I am also against betrayals, and this Minister should know much better. It is much more worse when you cheat workers, to gain political advantage. Mafia style.

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
14 days ago

Situation reminds me of an old joke:

John arrives at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter tells John that he has the unique opportunity to take a look around at Heaven AND Hell and decide where he wants to spend eternity.

John takes a little stroll around Heaven. Nice puffy clouds, people hanging around playing harps, smiling, peaceful. He thinks, “that looks pretty nice” and he hops in the elevator down to Hell.

Stop worrying about the big boys.

The doors open and the devil shows him into a big room… WOW… What a party! People dancing, singing, laughing, having an amazing time.

“Now,”he thinks, “this is the way to spend eternity!”

He jumps back on the elevator and runs to tell St. Peter that while Heaven is certainly lovely. Hell is simply an awesome party and that is his choice.

John jumps back on the elevator and when the doors open he is shocked to see flames all around, people screaming with fear and pain, etc… John quickly runs to find The Devil and says, “What happened? I was just here and it was a giant party… how could this be?”

“Simple,” replies The Devil. “Before you were a prospect; now you’re a client!”

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
14 days ago

If Minister Clyde Caruana can’t keep the agreement that he signed a few months ago, he should tender his resignations. There is no ifs and buts.

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
14 days ago

How despicable of David Curmi. He has apparently forgotten when he was at the receiving end of the stick when he was unceremoniously dismissed from Citadel Insurance u kemm beka

KLAUS
KLAUS
14 days ago

Why then should Minister Clyde Caruana hold the new agreement?

KLAUS
KLAUS
14 days ago

Even a “luminary” like Minister Clyde Caruana should be aware of the damage to Malta’s image if he closes Air-Malta.

Maybe he will also find an explanation why BEFORE the election the finances looked so great and now they look so bad.

Mario P. Attard
Mario P. Attard
14 days ago
Reply to  KLAUS

The New GREAT Dictatore LOL

KLAUS
KLAUS
14 days ago

:-)

I pose him without his glasses, with a white clown cap and red clown nose.
Try it and you will see that it fits perfectly.

Steve Borg
Steve Borg
14 days ago
Reply to  KLAUS

These amatures are just prolonging the inevitable, there is no place for Air Malta in today’s market, consolidation is the name of game in the industry nowadays…

Joe Borg
Joe Borg
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve Borg

What you say may be correct for a large country, but not for an island, especially one at the periphery of Europe. This is so both for incoming tourism (especially in winter), but most especially for the Maltese and local community, who are connected to Europe’s capital cities through Air Malta, rather than places like Plovdiv and Niz (not Nice mind you) served by Low Cost Airlines.

Be aware that our government, through MTA is spending much of its €100M budget ANNUALLY, on low cost airlines to bring over tourists – whilst not giving a cent to Air Malta (until it gets quasi bankrupt)

This un-level playing field is what troubles Air Malta so much – after creating and sustaining the tourism industry for nearly 50 years.

So be careful what you wish for, unless you want to connect to the US via Bari, or go to a London hospital via an airport claiming to be in London, but is actually in Bedfordshire or Essex. Even worse, if you need a stretcher and not a seat, you will need to hire a private jet, as only Air Malta’s planes carry stretcher cases, incubators, etc.

In can go on. Meditate…..

makjavel
makjavel
13 days ago
Reply to  KLAUS

Because like Varist he has to be his master’s voice or loose his head.

marten
marten
14 days ago

Shutting down Air Malta is the most obvious bluff ever and will not happen, unless the government wants to destroy the tourism industry here.

Francis Said
Francis Said
14 days ago

A similar U Turn prior to the 2013 election. When the then leader of the PL “movement”, together with former GWU (alias trajdituri) promised Enemalta employees that Enemalta would NOT be privatised, just before the general election.
Unfortunately the GWU are just puppets to the PL. Not in the interest of their members, who pay a fee deducted from their salary.

carlos
14 days ago
Reply to  Francis Said

But sheep never learn.

Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
14 days ago

As they say, there is no honour amongst thieves.

carlos
14 days ago

Blackmail by another incompetent corrupt skuzi minister. To all those who voted for the muvument korrot -ENJOY.

makjavel
makjavel
14 days ago

The government will be giving permission to the subcontractor to import cheap paid third country workers instead of the fired Maltese. Malta L-Ewwel u Qabel Kollox.
Traitors they are and blind and stupid are those who voted them in. EneMalta was first , workers were transferred , fired or the friends of friends promoted to the coffee machine in the corridors of power. Worse to come. Let us all hope that the Social Services , Pensions , Children’s allowance will not be cut.

A. Fan
A. Fan
14 days ago

This fiscal Boy Wonder (a legend in his own mind; just like the PL’s latest Dark Knight) doth protest too much, methinks. If putting KM out of business were the goal, that could have been accomplished long ago. In all lkelihood, this contractual welch by the weasels that be has to do with the (presumably still ongoing) rescue talks with Brussels. Word to the wise, Boy Wonder, never issue transparent threats. They’ll just laugh at you that much harder the next time.

adriang
adriang
14 days ago

Minister Clyde Caruana must resign as his word isn’t worth the paper he signed on – literally.

Last edited 14 days ago by adriang
Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
14 days ago

Is this a manifest case of “l-ewwel bezaqha, w issa jrid jilghaqha”?

Nicholas Grima
Nicholas Grima
14 days ago

Ministru ta’ bla kelma…..hekk titratta lill haddiema li tant hadmu ghall Air Malta. Ghax ma ghamiltx hekk ma dak il mazetta Karl Stanga Navarra.

Bamboccu
Bamboccu
14 days ago

Clyde wiret il hmieg minghand ta’ qablu.
Nirreferi ghal K.M
Dan il hmieg ried jiehu hsiebu missier K.M permezz ta’ l Rssl pero tant kemm hu kbir li lanqas jekk jiehdu d dar m ghandux fejn ipoggih ghax il hmieg jintenn pesta.

Joe Borg
Joe Borg
14 days ago

Whilst it is reprehensible to make an agreement (before an election), only to reneg on it shortly after, please report facts correctly. Capt Pace did not get a golden handshake, but rather an early retirement, as he was entitled to in his collective agreement – just as all Police, army, and other government sectors, besides many many private companies. What you quoted has nothing to do with the VETS your article is based on.

Lius
Lius
13 days ago

You voted for these politicians, what are you complaining about now?

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