A Malta International Airport employee was awarded €12,000 by the Industrial Tribunal ruled in a case of unfair dismissal which had been instituted by UĦM Voice of the Workers.

The decision given on May 6 relates to a case dating back to March 2018 when the employee, who was also a UĦM shop steward, was accused by the management that on various instances he was not carrying his duties properly. The employee worked as a security assistant in the control room and had been on the company’s books for 20 years. The charge was made on the strength of an anonymous letter sent to the management.

The claim resulted in the the employee being brought before an internal disciplinary board which found him at fault with the evidence being a security video, which according to the management, was evidence that he was not paying enough attention. The decision to sack him was upheld by the company’s appeals board.

It was at this stage that UĦM Voice of the Workers intervened and seek redress  before the Industrial Tribunal where it demanded that the dismissal be declared unfair and that necessary measures be taken including compensation.

In its ruling, the Tribunal, presided over by Harold Walls, noted that the security assistants worked 12-hour shifts and were entitled to a half-an-hour break and another one of  15 minutes. From the evidence heard by the Tribunal it transpired that the employee had not been found asleep but was not concentrating and paying enough attention to monitor the sites for which he was responsible. On his part the employee noted that at times he would rest his head on the back of the chair as he felt tired.

The Tribunal heard that the security assistants were not taking the break in line with the law. As a matter of fact, they remained in the control room for the entire 12-hour shift even during breakfast whereby they kept observing the security monitors. In this regard the Tribunal pointed out that Malta International Airport was in breach of the law (Subsidiary Legislation 452.87) stating that the rest break shall be for an uninterrupted period of not less than 15 minutes and the worker shall be entitled to take it away from the workstation.

Consequently, apart from the company’s unlawful conduct the situation was having a negative impact on the operation of the workers. In this context, the Tribunal concluded that the fatigue suffered by this security assistant was a result of the way the shift was being managed as they were not being allowed to take a proper brake. In view of this, the Tribunal upheld the workers’ request and declared his dismissal as unfair and in breach of the law. At the same time, Malta International Airport was ordered to pay €12,000 in compensation within two weeks. Lawyer Andrew Grima appeared for UĦM Voice of the Workers.