Alpa's notification of industrial action unfounded - Air Malta CEO
Alpa's notification of industrial action is unfounded and it was in the interest of both the union and Air Malta to engage in a serious dialogue to identify solutions to the current impasse and ensure a viable future for the airline, CEO Peter Davies said in a letter to Alpa.
Mr Davies' letter was sent to Alpa in reply to a letter from Alpa's lawyer Chris Cilia, informing the airline of the union's intention to strike on Saturday.
Alpa listed as its reasons for the action the termination of the employment of 13 pilots, the airline's failure to initiate discussions on a new collective agreement and the absence of consultation or discussion with the union in the restructuring process.
Mr Davies told the union that Air Mlata wrote to Alpa in January last year declaring how it intended to renew the Air Malta/Alpa collective agreement.
Alpa's secretary at the time acknowledged the letter by an e-mail in February when a number of improvements were requested.
These included a 30 per cent increase in basic salary and weighted units, a guaranteed minimum of 150 weighted units per months, clarification of clauses under dispute and a collective agreement valid from August 1, 2010 to July 31 this year.
Mr Davies said that the proposal of a 30 per cent increase in basic salary and a guaranteed minimum of 150 weighted units per month, which equated to an average increase of €25,000 per annum per pilot was considered unreasonable, even more so since the request was based on a collective agreement which would have expired within 12 months.
Given the difficult circumstances being faced by the company, the increase in wages and weighted units proposals could not be considered favourably by the airline.
Notwithstanding this, after months of discussion, an agreement was signed in May this year to address the clarification of clauses under dispute.
On the termination of the jobs of 13 pilots, Mr Davies said these pilots' contracts were on a definite basis and due to expire in August and September.
Air Malta's letter, he said, was confirmation that their contracts were not going to be renewed and not an arbitrary termination of employment. This was in line with the contractual obligation that Air Malta had entered into with the pilots and known to and accepted by all interested parties.
The CEO said that Air Malta had invited Alpa to participate in meetings with MIA dedicated to achieving cost reductions, and the government had also included the union on the steering committee.