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Malaysian Airlines (MAS) Employees and Trade Union Rights at

Risk by New Law Being Rushed Through

William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador, SalemNews.com-Dec-08-2014

Employees may have to once again form new unions and go

through the process of seeking MABs recognition.
(LONDON) - We, the undersigned 36
organisations, groups and trade unions are
appalled with the Malaysian governments
current attempt to pass a law that will
seriously undermine worker and trade union
rights of employees in the Malaysian Airline
System Berhad (MAS), the operator of
Malaysias national carrier.
Not only will the consequence of the new
law be loss of employment of all employees
of MAS and its subsidiaries, but also the end
of the existing trade unions and associations
representing the employees of MAS.


The law also opens the possibility of loss of regular employment until retirement, to be
replaced by precarious forms of employment like fixed term contracts or other even more
precarious forms of labour practices which even evades direct employment relationship by
using of workers supplied by third parties.
Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Bill 2014 was tabled and 1st reading was
on 26/11/2014, the 2nd reading was on 27/11/2014 and was speedily passed by the Dewan
Rakyat on 27/11/2014. Now, it is on the agenda of the first day of the Senate sitting on
1/12/2014, and scheduled for second reading the following day.
There was really no time for anyone, including parliamentarians, to even study it, let alone
comment or object to this Bill before it was speedily rushed through and passed in the Lower
House of our Malaysian Parliament.

Now, the object of the Malaysian government is clear they want the national carrier, MAS,
now owned by the Malaysian Airline System Berhad, a government linked company, that is
having financial problems to be taken over by a new legal entity which will be known
as Malaysian Airlines Berhadin an effort to save the airline.
We may have no objections to MAS and its subsidiaries being taken over by the Malaysian
government, or vide a government owned legal entity provided that the rights of the workers
and their trade unions are respected and preserved. The current Bill, however, seems to totally
disregard the rights and welfare of existing employees of MAS and its subsidiaries, or their
Workers, unlike assets, cannot be transferred from one legal entity to another new legal entity.
Thus, all the employees of MAS will naturally be terminated when the present MAS seeks to
exist, and the Bill is silent on whether the new entity, Malaysian Airlines Berhad, will employ
all these MAS employees without loss of tenure and benefits or will they be abandoned with
no employment?
The Bill makes it most clear that Malaysian Airlines Berhad (MAB) will be a new entity, and
will not be an assignee or transferee or a successor employer (Clause 26). MAB shall
also not be liable for any obligation relating to any retirement plan or other postemployment benefit plans in respect of the employees or former employees, It shall
also not be liable for any sum which is calculated by reference to a period of time prior to
Malaysia Airlines Berhad becoming the employer of the person in question. The
Malaysia Airlines Berhad, the appointer and the Administrator shall not be named as a
party in any claim or application made or joined as a party in any proceeding commenced
or continued by or on behalf of any employees or former employees of the Administered
Companies pursuant to the Industrial Relations Act 1967 [Act 177], Employment Act
1955 [Act 265], Sabah Labour Ordinance 1950 [Sabah Cap. 67], Sarawak Labour
Ordinance 1952 [Sarawak Cap. 76] or the Trade Unions Act 1959 [Act 262].
This means that MAB or the Administrator will not step into the shoes of MAS, or be liable,
even in cases, including pending cases, between employees/trade unions and MAS. This will
result in not just in loss of rights under existing labour laws, but also will result in employees
and trade unions having to bear all loss of monies, time and effort sustained this far in the
pursuance of justice.
MAB will be able to employ whoever and under what terms and conditions, as is stated in
Clause 25, which states, Malaysia Airlines Berhad may, in its sole discretion, offer
employment to any person who immediately before the date of that offer is in the
employment or service of the Administered Companies on such terms and conditions as
the Malaysia Airlines Berhad may determine..
The LIFO (Last In First Out) principle when it comes to employee reduction in cases of
retrenchment can be ignored here, and there is every possibility that those worker and union
leaders, and workers who stand up for rights, may all just not be employed by MAB.

Now, most of the 20,000 employees in MAS enjoy stable regular employment until retirement,
but now the new MAB may use precarious forms of employment like short-term contracts, or
even use the contractor for labour system to get third parties to supply workers without entering
into a direct employment relationship with these workers at the airline.
The Bill, as it stands also will see the end of all trade unions of current employees of MAS,
most of which being in-house union of MAS employees, and also the end of enforceability of
all collective bargaining agreements(CBA) with MAS. There seem to be an implied indication
that future employees of MAB will enjoy the right of freedom of association and have trade
The provision in the Bill may mislead some into believing that the existing trade unions of
MAS employees will continue to exist once MAB takes over, but clearly this is not the case,
Clause 28 is talking only about any trade union duly recognized by the Malaysia Airlines
Berhad and any association recognized by the Malaysia Airlines Berhad which implies
that employees may have to once again form new unions and once again go through the process
of seeking MABs recognition. Hence, this can be perceived to be a union busting exercise
done by way of the enactment of a new law.
Whilst Clause 14 says that ...any person is under a contract or obligation to provide goods or
services or both... if retained, may be at the same rate as would have been paid by MAS may
also cover employees but alas considering the later clauses that deal specifically with
employees, MAB, even if they do employ former employees of MAS may not be paying the
same wages. MAB will have the legal authority to stipulate new wages, benefits and terms.
Usually when a company is wound-up, what is due and payable to the employees is amongst
the first to be settled, and as such this Bill is even more detriment to employees of MAS as
MAB is freed of all these obligations to workers.
Employees who are terminated will also most likely not be able to recover
retrenchment/termination benefits provided for in law as MAS, even if it still exists, may most
likely be devoid of capacity, assets and monies, and MAB, according to this Bill, clearly has no
obligation to be responsible for MASs obligations to its workers.
The secrecy and the blitz manner in which this Bill has been tabled, passed and being made law
is also wrong, when there really should have been prior discussion and agreements especially
with regard the 20,000 over employees of MAS and their trade unions, who now are in a
precarious position uncertain even about the future wellbeing and livelihood of these workers
and their families.
We call for:
1.The immediate suspension of the process of making the Malaysian Airline System
Berhad (Administration) Bill 2014 into law, or the putting into force of this Act, until all
matters concerning the rights, future employment security, wellbeing and livelihood of
the about 20,0000 employees of MAS and their family is resolved and provided for. The

future of the existing employee trade unions and rights must also be resolved.
2.The Malaysian government respect and make worker and trade union rights a priority
in this exercise to try to save the national carrier, MAS, for after all employees can
reasonably not be blamed for poor management that have put MAS in this financial
3.The Malaysian government to guarantee that the right to regular employment until
retirement will not be sacrificed in favour of precarious employment relationship and
practices to the detriment of workers, and their unions in this process of saving
Malaysias national carrier.
Charles Hector
Mohd Roszeli bin Majid
Pranom Somwong
For and on behalf of the following 36 civil society groups, trade unions and organizations:
Angkatan Rakyat Muda Parti Rakyat Malaysia (ARM-PRM)
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association- ADHOC
CAW (Committee for Asian Women)
Community Action Network (CAN), Malaysia
CWI Malaysia (Committee For A Workers International Malaysia)
Hawaii Center for Human Rights Research & Action (HCHR2A)
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, UK
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
Migrant Care, Indonesia
Migrante International
MTUC (Malaysian Trade Union Congress)
MTUC Sarawak on behalf of 28 affiliates union in Sarawak
National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM)
National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM)
Pax Romana-ICMICA Asia
Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor
School of Acting Justly, Loving Tenderly and Treading humbly (SALT)
Tenaga Nasional Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU)
Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Mitsui Copper Foil
MHS Employees Union

Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee

Clean Clothes Campaign
Association of Maybank Executives
Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
National Union of Journalist(NUJ) Cawangan Utusan Melayu
Kesatuan Eksekutif AIROD
MTUC Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan
MTUC Pahang R
Yours Sincerely,
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist
Twitter: @Wnicholasgomes
Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a
Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist. As an investigative journalist has
written widely for leading European and Asian media outlets. William Gomes
concentrates on humanity; his advocacy of human beings in dangerous,
preventable circumstances does in fact lead to some of our most vital reports,
because they give a voice to the voiceless.
William Gomes said, "I am against any form of intolerance alongside xenophobia and
antisemitism. I am and will always stand strong in combating all forms of racial discrimination
and intolerance any where." Read his letters and reports to see what the new generation of
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