Air Malta Takes Legal Action Against Pilots' Union For Following 'Restrictive Practices'

This is the latest development in an ongoing industrial dispute between the airline and the union

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Air Malta has filed a warrant of prohibitory injunction against the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) in the latest development in an ongoing industrial dispute with the union.

This legal action comes after the signing of a new collective agreement in January. Though it seemed that headway was being made following the agreement, Malta's national airline has taken umbrage at the instructions the union is allegedly giving its pilots, which Air Malta believes to be to the detriment of the company.

"Over the past months, ALPA has issued several ‘recommendations’ to its members to follow restrictive practices that limit flexibility and productivity. These ‘recommendations’ have negatively affected the airline and its customers and caused delays on several flights. A case in point, last month (on the 19th September) the airline even had to cancel a flight to Paris Orly due to the inflexibility created by these ‘recommendations’ whereby ALPA advised its members not to accept the flight on an off-day when all standby pilots called in sick," said the company in a press release.

"The airline has strongly condemned the actions taken by ALPA and said that it will do everything in its power to protect its interests and those of its passengers and minimise any disruptions. This morning the company filed a warrant of prohibitory injunction on the basis that the union did not follow the mandatory conciliation and arbitration procedures laid down in the collective agreement," it continued.

"To put undue pressure on the company, ALPA had issued recommendations to it members to not accept to operate flights on days off"

An informed source within the aviation industry told Lovin Malta that the legal action comes after a series of actions that Air Malta deemed to be motivated by a desire to damage the company. They claimed issues such as the amount of off days agreed upon, health insurance for pilots, issues regarding fatigue within pilots, and the unfair use of exceptional circumstances to ground a flight had led to the legal action.

"Following the new collective agreement in January of this year, Air Malta and ALPA have been in discussions on the interpretation of various parts of the collective agreement," they said. "The way ALPA is interpreting these clauses is deemed disadvantageous and unfair to the company. One of the points is the unfair interpretation of the denied 'day off' rule where to reach an agreement, ALPA is insisting to pay ALPA members for the days off given up for work by non-ALPA members, effectively asking the company to pay ALPA members for work they wouldn’t have done."

They also claimed ALPA would use a method to pressure pilots to side with them in disputes

"The collective agreement requires the company to pay the pilot for any off day they give up. When a pilot would be called out on an off day as allowed by the agreement, ALPA has means to know when a pilot would have accepted to help the company. Once ALPA would find out that a pilot would have accepted to help out, the union would publish the pilot’s name on it's Facebook page to name and shame, putting pressure on him/her so as to refuse to cooperate," they said.

"To cause additional pressure on the company, recently the company has seen a drastic increase in pilots reporting fatigue with some claiming “fatigue" after they were called to operate while they were resting at home while on standby. With this trend, the company is forced to call pilots to operate on their days off, putting additional costs on the company as denied off payment has to be made once a pilot is finally given a green light to operate on his day off by ALPA," they claimed.

With the warrant for a prohibitory injunction against ALPA filed, a hearing for the case is now scheduled for Thursday, 18th October.

What do you think of this ongoing dispute between Air Malta and ALPA?

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Written By

Johnathan Cilia

Johnathan is interested in the weird, dark, and wonderful contradictions our late-capitalist society forces upon us. He also likes music and food. Contact him at [email protected]