We were prepared for Air Malta job cuts – GWU
The General Workers Union appeared to defend the government’s announcement about the intension to cut the 890 workforce by more than half, with workers offered public sector jobs, suggesting that it had been preparing for this situation “for years”. In cments to The Times of Malta, General Secretary Josef Bugeja said that “the government had been keeping the union updated over the past months about its discussions with the European Commission over a state aid application for the national airline.” Bugeja added that the Union had been building up for such an eventuality for some years, adding that “among others, in an agreement we signed for ground handling staff in 2017 we had included a clause ensuring employment within the public sector if the Air Malta Aviation Services is dissolved”. [Times of Malta]
Lifeless body recovered in Bugibba
A lifeless body of a man has been recovered off the coast of Buġibba this morning. Maltatoday reports that the body was discovered at around 8.45am, and was recovered in a operation conducted by the Armed Forces of Malta. The identity of the man has not yet been established. [Maltatoday]
Health authorities reported 503 Covid-19 cases were registered, while three more patients have died. The victims are a man aged 62 and two women aged 69 and 86. 504 persons have died so far, sixteen this week alone. At present, there are 102 patients in hospital, with three of them in intensive care.
The number of recoveries totalled 1,307, bringing down the number of active cases to 10,754. [The Malta Independent]
Government backtracks on cinema social distancing
Government appeared to change tack on cinemas and theatres, saying on Friday that social distancing measures for cinemas and theatres “have been clarified and protocols are to be updated”, implying that no social distancing will be required. This prompted the Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association to state that “now that seated arts events can continue operating without any further restrictions, we will continue with our work on the return of standing events”. The association said it would be updating its proposals for standing events and continue discussions with the health authorities to ensure that a plan is in place for all operators in the arts and entertainment sectors to reopen in a safe and sustainable manner. (Times of Malta)
Government to downsize Airmalta by half: Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has announced that in view of a restructuring plan being negotiated with the European Commission, the company will be reducing its human resource complement from just under 900 to 420. These employees will be absorbed within the public sector, saving the airline some €15 million per year. Caruana explained that the major reductions will be achieved through ceasing cargo handling operations by quarter two, and major reductions from cabin crew and administration.
The Minister insisted that the company had a fighting chance to survive: “We have been strong with the European Commission that Air Malta has a fighting chance and we believe that our plan will save the company from bankruptcy,” he added. n a reaction, the Nationalist Party recalled that back in 2012 the European Commission had approved a PN-led restructuring plan, which would have allowed the airline to return to viability. Today, Government has admitted that it had lost credibility in the eyes of the Commission for failing to implement this plan.
Covid-19 update: A further 516 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Friday while 1,255 patients recovered. A 68-year-old woman died while positive with the virus, bringing the death toll to 501.