Airline crew union cries foul against proposed MAS Act

Malaysia Airline crew arrive at Bunga Raya Complex for the MH17 mourning ceremony at KLIA in this August 24, 2014 file picture. — Bernama pic
Malaysia Airline crew arrive at Bunga Raya Complex for the MH17 mourning ceremony at KLIA in this August 24, 2014 file picture. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — The government’s proposal for new legislation dealing with the national carrier is lopsided and promotes discriminatory against airline crew that is at odds with current industry practices, its union said today.

Responding to the MAS Act tabled in Parliament yesterday, the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) said the proposed law aims to block the workers and their unions from taking legal action against Malaysia Airlines (MAS) should their rights be compromised.

“It is seen to steer employees and its Unions off the normal legal process in filing any industrial disputes against the carrier. There are also several clauses to provide protection and also to overthrow the current legal process which has been recognised by law under the Trade Union Act and Industrial Relations Act,” the union said in a statement.

It added that the proposed act also contains clauses to fend off any claims third-parties may make in the future against the airline, which was twice hit by two major aviation disasters this year that plunged it further into the red.

The MAS Act proposes that a new entity called Malaysia Airlines Berhad be set up to replace Malaysian Airline System Berhad.

Its draft also suggests special laws for the administration of the airlines and all subsidiaries in addition to stricter rules regulating airline unions.

Nufam demanded state wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad, which has nearly 70 per cent stake in MAS, to provide the union a copy of the draft Act before it is debated further in Parliament.

The union warned that if Parliament endorses the proposed law, it would be against current industrial trade practices.

While tabling the Act, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar told Parliament yesterday that all matters to be discussed and negotiated between Malaysia Airlines Berhad and unions will be by way of meetings.

The proposed bill also stated that resourcing and allocation of resources, assessment of employees, leave entitlement, working hours and scheduling of work, including flight time limitation and flight duty periods will be determined by the new entity.

Apart from Nufam, other unions representing MAS workers are the Malaysia Airlines System Employees Union (Maseu), Malaysia Airlines Employees Union Peninsular Malaysia, and the Malaysia Airlines Pilot Association.

The proposal follows Khazanah’s plans to straighten out the ailing carrier by trimming the labour force of some 20,000 workers to just 14,000, according to the plan rolled out on August 29 this year.

The national carrier was delisted in August after sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd offered to buy out its minority share for a total of RM1.38 billion to restructure MAS, which suffered two disasters this year.

The total takeover is to cost state-owned firm Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the majority-shareholder in the airline, RM6 billion.

The sovereign wealth fund later unveiled a 12-point turnaround plan for the national carrier, titled “Rebuilding A National Icon — The MAS Recovery Plan”, which includes transferring all MAS assets to a new entity tentatively known as “MAS Baru” or “new MAS”.

Flight MH17 was shot down in Ukraine in July, four months after flight MH370, en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur vanished mid-air in March. The latter has yet to be found.

However, even before the mysterious disappearance, the carrier had racked up RM4.13 billion in losses over three years.

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