Prime Minister issues clear warning to pilots on eve of vote on government offer
On the eve of the Air Malta pilots’ vote on Givernment’s latest proposals on the collective agreement, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat declared clearly that Government will not be blackmailed and is prepared for every decision, to defend all the interests of Air Malta and of the company’s largest stakeholder, this being the tourism industry and the country’s economy.
The Prime Minister revealed that the packet Government is offering the Air Malta pilots amounts to an increase of 72,000 euro in First Officers’ salaries, and 105,000 euro for Captains, over a five-year spread.
During a political activity in Birkirkara Dr Muscat sent a clear message to the pilots that it is unacceptable for Government that they will not accept the increases but will continue to work as at present without increasing their hours of work according to aviation industry rules. Dr Muscat reiterated that pilots’ jobs are not part-time. The Prime Minister warned that the pilots are looking for excuses to order industrial actions, but Government would not bow to blackmail as its interest was not in a small group, but rather, in the people and the country as a whole.
Dr Muscat said he expected the pilots to increase their working hours according to industry regulations, for Air Malta to implement a strategy with which the pilots have also agreed, in order to become the airline of the Mediterranean.
The Prime Minister stated he had been told that no Prime Minister had ever reached agreement with the pilots, but Dr Muscat added that this time around, he was determined not to be put into a corner. Dr Muscat reiterated that Government was prepared for every eventuality to defend the national interest. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that the Opposition will side with Government on this issue, as the constituted bodies were doing.
Dr Muscat stated that this will again be another successful year for the economy and will break every record for the country, families and businesses, and Government will be distributing benefits by reaching into every corner. The Prime Minister added that whilst Government wants to work with private enterprise, the Opposition has declared that investment should come from Government by resorting to loans. Dr Muscat said this Government did not want to follow in the steps of previous Governments, by leaving debts to be paid by the next generations. He added that he wished to leave wealth rather than debts for future generations.
Referring to the energy reform, Dr Muscat said this was well planned, as otherwise, we would now be discussing increases in tariff bills in light of heavy increases in international oil prices. Dr Muscat aded that electricity tariffs woujld remain low. On the increase in the price of gas, Dr Muscat said the most important point was that it would remain unchanged for a full year.
Dr Muscat spoke about investment on the entrance to Valletta, and gave recognition to projects carried out by the previous Government. Dr Muscat invited everyone to attend the official opening of Valletta 2018 on Saturday, saying this was a project started by the Nationalist Government and continued by this administration, and is a celebration which should unite everyone.