KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto today demanded that the Human Resources Ministry clarify the whereabouts of a RM3 million lifeline given to Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd to pay its workers, after the airline undertook a retrenchment exercise that saw it let about 2,000 workers go.
During Minister’s Question Time (MQT) in the Dewan Rakyat, the DAP MP pointed out that those who were retrenched were mainly ground staff who earn a measly wage, and pressed for information on how the funds were channelled.
“According to a statement from Nufam (National Union of Flight Attendants), Malindo Air received at least RM3 million to pay their staff salaries, including for their ground staff. However, the workers began being retrenched starting March this year. Their wages were unpaid for months and a 24-hour notice was given in their retrenchment letters.
“I heard your replies earlier and it seems that there are a lot of good initiatives laid out by the government to help them. However, one of their grouses is being put on a list and returning to work once the Covid-19 situation settles down. To be put on a KIV list. However, until now, I have not heard whether they would be placed on the KIV list,” she said.
Kasthuriraani also asked if the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) would initiate an investigation into how the RM3 million was spent by Malindo.
“Whose salaries were paid with the RM3 million? As those who were retrenched are ground staff who earned slightly more than RM2,000, slightly more than RM 1,000 or slightly more than RM3,000. So who is benefiting from the RM3 million?” Kasthuriraani pressed further.
In response, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said that the ministry would be meeting airline management today, together with the Social Security Organisation (Socso) and Department of Labour, to address worker woes.
“I will take an in-depth look at the matter and make sure they are protected as much as possible,” Saravanan said.
Nufam had issued a statement criticising Malindo’s announcement of more job cuts last week, which was run by several news sites.
One of them, Free Malaysia Today, reported that it had sighted an internal memo from Malindo chief executive Mushafiz Mustafa Bakri to staff saying that there would be further retrenchments “within the next few days” in yet another cost-cutting exercise, following the damages brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had gravely affected the tourism sector.
The news portal also reported Nufam urging Malindo staff members to lodge complaints for wrongful dismissal, after the retrenchments, adding that the compensation and terms of dismissal were very unreasonable.