Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, who is currently piloting Malta’s national carrier towards definite closure, continues to refuse to make public the financial package he arranged for David Curmi – the politically appointed Air Malta executive chairman.
At the same time, the minister is shirking responsibility for 229 former Air Malta employees who were given alternative employment with government entities but are now claiming discrimination because their salaries are lower than those of their new colleagues.
Air Malta, Curmi’s employer, told The Shift that it did not have a copy of his contract.
The Finance Ministry has, meanwhile, asked The Shift for more time when after a freedom of information request, saying, “We would like an extension of 20 working days so that the Ministry could consult third parties prior to deciding upon the request.”
Ministry sources told The Shift that Caruana’s latest ‘excuse’ was aimed at buying time and diverting as much attention from his appointee as possible: “Since Minister Caruana is being hounded by many disgruntled current and former employees about the way they have been treated, he is trying to buy time to avoid rubbing more salt in the wound.”
Sources added, “David Curmi has resulted to be a complete failure and will be remembered for the closing of the airline, but he is still being paid handsomely while the airline is literally being grounded.
“That is why Caruana’s revealing of his chairman’s perks, under the circumstances, will continue to embarrass the government.”
At the same time, the minister is shirking responsibility for 229 former airline employees who, instead of taking a generous golden handshake and leaving, preferred to be given alternative employment with the government.
According to the employees, they are not being paid the same as they were at the airline and as per their termination agreement.
They were instead deployed to different government jobs across various entities where they are now being paid less than their new colleagues for doing the same job.
The issue was taken up by Opposition MP Adrian Delia who pressed Caruana about the ‘discrimination’.
Reminding the minister that he represents the Labour Party, Delia asked Caruana to explain why the government is not applying the basic ‘equal pay, equal work’ principle when it came to these particular workers.
The minister, however, avoided a direct reply and just said that Resource Support and Services Limited– a government company under the direct responsibility of Prime Minister Robert Abela – was responsible for the employees.
Caruana and Curmi are currently planning to close the airline down, most probably after the summer period, after which they will try to create a new airline from scratch, while political blame will be shifted to the European Commission for not approving another State Aid request.
All staff who are still on Air Malta’s books by the time it closes down for good will be made redundant and the new airline will only offer working conditions similar to those of low-cost airlines.