Nufam calls for resignation of MAS' CEO

PETALING JAYA (Nov 8, 2013): The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam), which represents 3,500 cabin crew at Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has called on the national carrier's CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya to resign, saying he had failed to resolve their plight since he took over the helm in September 2011.

In a statement yesterday, 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 and they are have become demoralised.

"Three years is long enough to observe how a CEO of a GLC (government-linked company) takes seriousness and consideration into the cabin crew's issues," it said.

"The management have cut costs drastically on the cabin crew and did not bother to review their allowances and salaries," it further claimed.

Nufam also wants MAS management to start immediate negotiations on a new collective agreement (CA) with the cabin crew, saying it is causing more problems with each delay.

Nufam had received an email from MAS management on Oct 30, 2013, rejecting the union's call to start discussions on a CA for Nufam members, citing the judiciary review as its reason.

The union also urged MAS' biggest trade union, Malaysia Airlines System Employees Union Peninsular Malaysia (Maseu) to "stop playing dirty politics", alleging that the latter had played a part in causing the cabin crew's problems of today.

"Maseu (cabin crew) members wants to leave the union and they must be allowed to do so. No one should stop the members from tendering their memberships in Maseu," said Nufam.

In an interview with SunBiz, Nufam president Ismail Nasaruddin (pix) said while it has been perceived as a glamorous job, being paid to travel, but for MAS cabin crew, the job has become increasingly challenging with the drastic changes being implemented by its management.

He said the changes, which are drastic and being implemented within short notice, are affecting the welfare and safety of MAS' cabin crew. They include weight control rules, transport services and vigorous work schedules.

"They (MAS management) said they had discussed with Maseu before putting these changes into the CA, but the discussions are behind Nufam's back," said Ismail.

One of the latest new policies imposed by MAS is 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.

"It was not done in fairness and is a form of discrimination against employees. This is also the first time they are picking on this (weight control) issue," said Ismail.

He added that in the past, the management would advise those who are above a certain BMI and give them time to adjust their weight or offer them the option of transferring to ground operations instead of an automatic deployment.

Another new ruling is the change in transport services for employees who are on duty.

Due to "changes in the agreement between MAS and the transport company", 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.

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.

In addition, work schedules have become more vigorous for the cabin crew as there are more flight hours and less off days in between flights, while some are required to work on international flights immediately after completing a domestic flight.

Despite reports to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), things have remained the same as the authority has said that MAS practices a fair system in scheduling its cabin crew members.

"The crew are overworked according to schedules and Nufam has raised these concerns with MAS. These are fatigue issues concerning the safety and welfare of employees…we request the DCA to monitor the work schedules of cabin crew," he added.

"Nufam wants the airline to straighten out their policies. All these policies concerning cabin crew must be regulated. The welfare and safety of the cabin crew must be looked into by the government," said Ismail.

At press time, MAS did not reply to queries from SunBiz.