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Dec-03-2013 11:39printcomments

Malaysia: MAS Must Immediately Revoke Suspension of Union President Ismail Nasaruddin

Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, William Nicholas Gomes joined civil society groups, trade union and organizations condemning the action of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) in commencing disciplinary actions against a Union leader..


Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes

(Washington, D.C) - Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, William Nicholas Gomes, condemned 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.

Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes 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, the 40 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 40 civil society groups, trade unions and organizations

ALIRAN
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 Salem-News.com, 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
Pusat KOMAS
Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association[SADIA]SUARAM
Tenaga Nasional Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU) Tenaganita
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

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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 world journalists are doing to preserve human rights worldwide.

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