Ryanair’s subsidiary Malta Air is to make 40 cabin crew redundant in the new year. The airline is blaming the layoffs on the cabin crew’s union for failing to accept an emergency agreement designed to protect jobs.
Malta Air redundancies were avoidable
As reported by Newsbook today, Ryanair’s subsidiary airline Malta Air is set to lay off 40 cabin crew. The carrier says that the General Workers’ Union’s (GWU) failure to accept “modest” pay cuts and revised working conditions means that job losses are now unavoidable.
However, GWU secretary-general Josef Bugeja told Newsbook that the workers themselves had overwhelmingly rejected the airline’s proposals, not least since Malta Air refused to guarantee that their jobs would be safeguarded.
In a statement, Malta Air said that the GWU had agreed to the terms of an emergency agreement on Thursday, but the union had since “failed to deliver.”
A Malta Air spokesperson said the following, according to Newsbook:
“This emergency agreement included modest pay cuts (to be restored over four years) along with a minimum pay guarantee and a year three review. Malta Air is operating at just 10% of its capacity due to the COVID-19 crisis but is still employing 100% of its pre-Covid Cabin Crew headcount, which is an untenable situation in an industry which has been devastated by COVID-19 and will take many years to recover.”
Malta Air pilots had already accepted the emergency agreement but, without the GWU delivering on its agreement with the airline, job losses could no longer be avoided. Subsequently, 40 cabin crew will be made redundant, with the layoffs taking effect on January 1, 2021.
Redundancies at Malta Air have been put off since June
In May 2020, Ryanair Holdings announced pay cuts of up to 20%, unpaid leave, and up to 3,000 job losses across its airlines, including Ryanair, Ryanair UK, Buzz, Lauda, and Malta Air. The redundancies mostly affected pilots and cabin crew. The group blamed the cuts not only on the global pandemic but also on the European Union’s “distorted state aid landscape.”
Malta Air announced at the time that of its 179 pilots and crew, 20 pilots and 40 cabin crew would be laid off from June 30. However, the redundancies were put off when the pilots agreed to the pay cuts. The airline agreed to continue talks with representatives of the cabin crew.
Bugeja of the GWU said that the union had sought to push back on certain measures but with no success. It had no option other than to present the airline’s proposals to the cabin crew it represented. According to Bugeja, 85% rejected the revised collective agreement.
While it now seems that the negotiations have run their course and that the layoffs are inevitable, the GWU is not giving up the fight. Bugeja has said the union is now seeking conciliation to try and avoid 40 employees having no prospect of a Happy New Year.
Malta Air briefly
Ryanair purchased Malta Air in June 2019 in agreement with the Maltese Government. The new airline was to take over the 61 routes that Ryanair operated from the island. Ryanair was also in negotiations with the government to add new routes.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has reshaped international aviation. The current renewed border closures due to the new COVID-19 strain shows that the virus hasn’t quite finished its devastation just yet.
What do you think of this latest round of layoffs?