SUBANG JAYA: The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) today questioned why it had taken the human resources ministry two years to decide not to refer the cases of 3,500 retrenched Malaysia Airlines workers to the Industrial Court.
Nufam president Ismail Nasaruddin, responding to a comment by Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem, said they had been caught off guard due to a lack of communication between the ministry, the union and the former workers.
“Has the ministry informed and advised the ex-workers? They have not received the letters. There is no information at all pertaining to this.
“It is sad that a HR minister took two years to decide cases will not be referred to the Industrial Court,” he said in a press conference today, adding that the cases had been filed in 2015.
Ismail had previously questioned the delay by the human resources ministry in referring the cases of 3,500 Malaysia Airlines workers who were laid off to the Industrial Court.He said the former workers had filed their cases with the ministry over two years ago, but there had been no progress.
On June 1, 2015, Malaysia Airlines announced it was laying off 6,000 of its workers as part of a restructuring programme. Of that number, 3,500 came under the union.
Riot had reportedly said he had not received any letters on the issue and that the cases should not be referred to the Industrial Court.
He said the letters could have been addressed directly to the director-general of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), Khalid Ali.
“Also, after a discussion between the DIR and the ministry’s legal counsel, we have decided that the cases involving the former MAS workers should not be referred to the Industrial Court,” he told Malaysiakini.
Ismail also claimed that Riot had assured the affected workers who had filed their complaints that they would get their representation.
“This was a massive retrenchment. Surely he can allow one or two cases to be referred (to the Industrial Court). But there are no cases being referred.
“Where is the justice? You say they have representation rights but here is one man saying the cases won’t be referred.
“It is not right to say the cases do not carry weight. Each and every case has different situations of retrenchment. The ministry must weigh everything.
“They want their say in court. It is only fair for the ministry to allow the cases in court,” he said, adding that the minister’s decision was unfair and unprofessional.
Ismail said the Malaysia Airlines case had to be treated as a landmark case, and that at least one case should be filed out of the 3,500.
“Let the court decide,” he said, adding that it was not for the minister to decide unilaterally.
“We urge the minister to review the decision. Until today, there is no official letter. I am pretty sure there is an opportunity to review. We urge them to reconsider,” he said.
Ismail said they would request a meeting with the minister by next week.
“We will not let this issue go so easily. We will not accept this just like that.”
Former Malaysia Airlines worker S Shashikumar, 43, who was also present at the press conference, said he was fed up with the way the ministry was dragging its feet on the issue.
Shashikumar, who worked as a cabin crew member for 20 years before being retrenched, added that he was still finding it hard to make ends meet, and was surviving by running an event management agency and with help from his wife’s salary.
“To hear about cases not being filed has made things worse for me,” he said.