Air Malta ‘mess’: Employers hit out at €50 million in taxpayers’ funds for the ‘privileged few’

Employers are up in arms against the latest government twist at Air Malta aimed at saving the national airline from bankruptcy while ‘compensating’ the privileged few through the public’s hard-earned taxes.

In a strongly-worded statement following reports by The Shift of the government’s U-turns and its gross mishandling of the beleaguered national airline, the Malta Employers Association dubbed the latest agreement connected to a golden handshake for some employees as “obscene and unprecedented”.

It said that the 350 Air Malta employees being considered as surplus to the airline’s needs could possibly rake in a staggering total of €50 million from the public coffers as a result of the latest severance package being negotiated.

According to the MEA, an employee with just five years’ experience will be entitled to a lump sum of €80,000, or €16,000 per year of service.

“This severance package is unprecedented and establishes that some animals are indeed more equal than others in Malta. It is nothing more than daylight robbery,” the employers’ association said.

According to current employment laws, private sector employees who are made redundant do not receive severance packages or compensation from taxpayer funds.

The MEA harshly criticised the government for giving in to this kind of agreement, particularly in a situation where private employers must rely on the importation of foreign labour to be able to function.

Describing the handling of the Air Malta situation by the government as “a tragedy of errors”, the MEA said the airline has been overstaffed for years, with many employees being nothing more than politically-appointed cronies who the airline could have easily done without.

“What the government is doing is squandering taxpayers’ money to resolve a mess of its own making.”

The MEA further warned that in this situation, companies and employees “cannot take government’s appeal for tax compliance seriously when it is distributing millions of their taxes to a privileged few, with such hand-outs amounting to more than what an average worker saves in his or her lifetime”.

The Shift has been reporting on Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s shifting of the goalposts in behind-closed-doors dealings with the General Workers Union.

Before the election, Caruana issued a scheme calling for ‘extra’ Air Malta employees to apply in order to receive a guaranteed government job in which they would enjoy the same take-home pay they had at the airline.

The ill-conceived scheme ran aground during discussions with the European Commission on the possibility of granting more state aid to Air Malta. Reneging on his promise after the general elections, Caruana later said that jobs will not be provided and, instead, employees would be offered a golden handshake.

After facing resistance from employees accusing Caruana of betrayal, the finance minister changed tack again, and offered a lucrative severance package together with a job guarantee for the remaining few who did not take the golden handshake.

Caruana also postponed the redeployment of the extra employees from this month to the end of the year.

The Shift has revealed that at the same time, Caruana has already readied a Plan B if Brussels refused to approve the level of state aid for the airline that the government is requesting.

Should that come to pass, the plan is for Air Malta to be dissolved by the end of October, and for a new state airline to be formed. Such a move follows in the footsteps of Italy which had dissolved its national airline, Alitalia, and created a new national air carrier.

                           
                               
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Bamboccu
Bamboccu
1 month ago

Fejn qieghed Evarist Bartolo.
Allat u Annimali.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

Robert Abela and Clyde Caruana are nothing less than daylight robbers of taxpayers’ money.

viv
viv
1 month ago

I’m guessing Clyde is getting that feeling in his gut everyone has toward the end of the month.
I’m also guessing Maltese passport sales will be rising sharply – as so will diligence, if possible – be falling.
If there is to be an absolute storm of money laundering to be ploughing through Malta’s dark recesses to recoup the mad spending – my questions are
– how long can the numbers last?
– how long can the illegalities last?

D M Briffa
D M Briffa
1 month ago
Reply to  viv

According to Rijock the US authorities first need to deal with the Capitol rioters. That’s taking up a huge amount of FBI, etc. time and resources. Once that is done they can turn their attention to international dollar money launderers. That’s when Muscat, Schembri, Mizzi and Co will really begin to sweat.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

The whole ‘golden handshake bonanza has been calculated at about 50 million Euros.

The total amount allegedly swindled out of consumers in their Water and Electricity bills these last six years – or is it even longer – has been calculated at about 50 millions, too.

What an unfortunate co-incidence!

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

This is not a Golden Handshake , this is robbery. The ridiculous state where a national company is used or better still misused , to distribute jobs for votes , while those who work for their wages are taxed dry. If Air Malta was privately owned , this would never have happened . So €50 million will be handed out to many of these workers who never did a day’s job , I mean an 8hour work day. These guys will get an average of €50,000 each? The Maltese worker , employed privately in any industry , gets 6 months unemployement benefit that barely supports a person on starvation, and a pension of at best €1200 a month after working for 45 years. In the meantime this same government is €10,000 MILLION in debt .

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
1 month ago

In the meantime our PM is cruising with his boat!!

D.Vella
D.Vella
1 month ago

This is just making the PM look really bad… time to take decisions.

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