Monday, February 17, 2014

Malaysian Airlines takes disciplinary SG of NUFAM and 30 others - Union Busting?

Malaysian Airlines is at it again with regards the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM), and now it is allegedly the Secretary General of the Union and 30 others...NUFAM alleges that this action is with regard a picket at the Ministry of Human Resources on 27/12/2013...

As it is Malaysian laws have taken away so many fundamental freedoms and rights...and it must be noted that (1) this picket was not even a NUFAM organized picket; (2) NUFAM members were really there for another meeting at the Ministry...(3) Even the police did not take any action against this protest...

NUFAM is a registered trade union, and when MAS refused to accord recognition to the union, a secret ballot was conducted by the Ministry in MAS to determine whether NUFAM had sufficient support from the employees of MAS qualified to join this Union, and the result was that NUFAM managed to get 62.73% on or about July 2013 - that is more than 50%, which naturally means that it will be accorded recognition - but alas, this employer(MAS), also a government-linked company(GLC) was not happy and is apparently challenging the secret ballot...and the recognition of NUFAM in the High Court. 

We remember that on or about 8/11/2013 that MAS suspended the President of NUFAM, and thereafter 29/11/2013 he was terminated, allegedly without any Domestic Inquiry. We recall, the Joint Statement below that was issued by 43 groups, including also the International Trade Union Confederation.

Now, MAS has commenced disciplinary actions against Ismail Nasaruddin, and according to a Malaysiakini report, it is allegedly because MAS said Ismail had acted in contradiction with his duties as a chief steward of the airline by issuing the statement. (Malaysiakini, 14/11/2011, MAS suspends chief steward for criticising CEO)

Thereafter, there were further suspension...some of whom were reinstated...
Malaysian Airlines is embarassing Malaysia and Malaysians - we respect worker rights and union rights.
MAS should just reinstate the President of NUFAM and any others who have been terminated, and revoke all suspensions.
MAS must immediately withdraw its High Court action challenging the 'secret ballot' and recognition.
MAS must respect worker rights to picket, protest and freedom of expression. Trying to commence disciplinary actions based on comments in NUFAM's FB page is pathetic. Next, we will have disciplinary actions by reason of comments made to friends at a coffee shop, comments made to spouses and family... 

Joint Statement – 3/12/2013- now 43
MAS Must Immediately Revoke Suspension of Union President Ismail Nasaruddin
Worker Right Issue Should Be Resolved By Negotiations Not ‘Union Busting’
We, the 43 undersigned civil society groups, trade unions and organizations are disturbed by the news that Malaysian Airlines, a government linked company, has suspended the president of the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM), Ismail Nasaruddin in connection with a statements made to the media by the Union, which amongst others suggested that MAS’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO),  Ahmad Jauhari Yahya who was appointed in 2011, should resign. Ismail was allegedly suspended without allowances with immediate effect starting Nov 8 following a news report quoting him that was published on the same day.

According to a news report, ‘…NUFAM Secretariat said it is calling on the prime minister to review Jauhari's contract and remove him as the CEO of MAS, which is a government appointed position, unhappy that there has been no changes in resolving the cabin crew's problems…’ (The Sun Daily, 8/11/2013, NUFAM calls for resignation of MAS' CEO).

Amongst the alleged grievances being raised by NUFAM, which represents 3,500 cabin crew at Malaysia Airlines (MAS), as was contained in the said Sun Daily report are:-

· New policy imposed by MAS on a weight control ruling where cabin crew are told to reduce their weight to achieve a certain body mass index within three to six months. Failure to do so would result in an automatic transfer to ground work. The new rule is also a blanket policy and affects all cabin crew members including those who have just returned from maternity leave and may find it difficult to drastically lose weight within a short time frame;

· Cabin crew who joined in 2004 or later are no longer able to enjoy the transport services provided by the airline for pick-up from home, and Ismail said this is unfair to those who joined in 2004 or later, as they had signed contracts that included transportation as part of the benefits; and

· That the MAS management have allegedly cut costs drastically which affected the cabin crew resulting also a failure to review allowances and salaries.

We are especially concerned with this ‘weight control ruling’ which certainly is discriminatory against women, especially to those returning from pregnancy. Increase of body mass index sometimes may be beyond the control of a human being, and this really should not be used to affect their employment.

NUFAM alleges that it wants MAS to sit down with the Union to discuss and negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA/CA) but apparently MAS is not interested to do so at this moment, citing as reason some judicial review.

Now, MAS has commenced disciplinary actions against Ismail Nasaruddin, and according to a Malaysiakini report, it is allegedly because MAS said Ismail had acted in contradiction with his duties as a chief steward of the airline by issuing the statement. (Malaysiakini, 14/11/2011, MAS suspends chief steward for criticising CEO)

Now, clearly the statements were made by Ismail in his capacity as President of the Union, representing some 3,500 workers, and as such he has the duty and obligation to fight for the rights of workers and that includes applying pressure on the employer and even calling for the removal of any of such employer’s officers or even Directors who is standing in the way of a prompt resolution of the dispute. Unlike employers, every day that a worker’s issues is not resolved, it is the workers that will continue to suffer. A prompt resolution is best and just.

No worker, group of workers or unions should be barred from making public statements to the media or otherwise in the struggle for worker rights and human rights. This right is clearly acknowledged in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, commonly known today as the UN Human Rights Defender Declaration.

We condemn the action of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) in commencing disciplinary actions against a Union leader, and urge MAS to immediately stop this and revoke the suspension of Ismail Nasaruddin.

We call on MAS to immediately sit down, negotiate and resolve these outstanding worker issues with the trade union rather than resorting to ‘union busting’ strategies which include disciplinary actions against  worker and union leaders who dare to fight for worker rights.

We call on the Malaysian government to immediately to act, given the fact of the much influence it has in a government-linked company like MAS, to ensure that justice is done for Ismail Nasaruddin, the Union and its members.

Senator Syed Shahir bin Syed Mohamud
Charles Hector
Mohd Roszeli bin Majid
Pranom Somwong
For and on behalf of the following 43 civil society groups, trade unions and organizations

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
CWI Malaysia (Committee For A Workers International  Malaysia)
Damn the Dams
Dignity International-Asia
Friends of Burma
Human Rights Ambassador for, United Kingdom
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas(JERIT)
Kesatuan Eksekutif AIROD (KEA)
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Polyplastics Asia Pacific
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan Semenanjung Malaysia (KSIEWSSM)
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysians for Beng Hock
Malaysia Youth & Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
MTUC Pahang
National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers (NUHBRW)
Network of Action For Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
Paper and Paper Products Manufacturing Employees Union (PPPMEU)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)  
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines) 
Pax Romana-ICMICA Asia
Peoples' Green Coalition
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor
Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association[SADIA]
Tenaga Nasional Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU)
The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec
WIRDA (Women’s Institute Research Development and Advancement), Malaysia
Women’s Centre for Change Penang
Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)
Yayasan LINTAS NUSA – Batam, Indonesia

Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

Law and Society Trust.Colombo Sri Lanka
ITUC(International Trade Union Confederation)

Using of the 'affecting image of the company' a misconduct is pathetic and must be stopped - because of course the one who perceives that he/she is victimized or being treated unjustly or unreasonably should have the full right to highlight these injustices and lobby for support ....and in so doing he/she must certainly name the perpetrator of the wrong. Not sure, whether MAS is also using this 'affecting image of the company' misconduct or not - but really if so, such is a lame means to stifle the ability of workers and/or the union to fight for better rights for its members and workers generally...
This was also done by DRB-HICOM companies, another GLC, in Pekan

We understand that the charges leveled against the workers are (1) undermining the image or good name of the company orally, in writing or by action, and (2) bringing about or trying to bring about any form of influence or outside pressure to submit or support any external claim that is related to service be it an individual claim or claims of other employees. Now 51 groups call on DRB HICOM TO RESPECT THE CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN MALAYSIA
When GLCs do this, and the Malaysian government is not doing anything - it indicates that this government is really not bothered much about workers and worker rights. Malaysian government can easily 'tell' or influence all GLCs to be a good example and stop violating worker and union rights - in fact, facilitate the speedy formation and recognition of Trade Unions... On both, the MAS case and the DRB-HICOM case, sadly Najib or his Ministers has made no public statement...
It is also sad that media is not giving space or emphasis to highlight worker issues, causes and struggles... and even when they do, it is a mystery why many a time they mention not the name of the employer...or they they portray worker protests negatively...

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