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MAS staffers concerned with restructuring plan

MAS staffers concerned with restructuring plan
Khazanah Nasional Managing Director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar revealed its RM6 billion recovery plan for MAS on Friday. - Astro AWANI/Shahir Omar
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines’ restructuring plan, which includes axing 6,000 jobs - around a third of the workforce  - has caused worries among staffers, particularly cabin crew.

Details of the its right-sizing workforce initiative have not been laid out, but what is unveiled by Khazanah Nasional on Friday is that there will be options for re-skilling, redeployment and a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) as part of its RM6 billion recovery plan for MAS.

Under the plan, the company will also offer employment to some 3,500 MAS workers in other companies.

“As much as I want the airline to survive and accept that somebody has to go, we have to be fair to the staff,” a flight steward with MAS for 20 years told Astro AWANI.

“The rumour is that we might be offered a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) of one and half month's salary for each year of service. That is not sufficient for the cabin crew if the VSS is calculated based on our basic salary.
"For the crew, two thirds of our take home salary comes from allowances. If the VSS is calculated based on basic salary, I don’t think we can survive even for a year.”

MAS employees are very concerned but are mostly opting to wait out until more details of the company’s restructuring plans are revealed, before weighing in on their options, he added.

“The fact is, someone has to go. But we need to be given enough time for adjustments and compensated with a fair and sufficient amount.”

When asked if seeking employment at a different airline is an option, the 40-year-old flight steward said his age could be an impediment.

“I have been with MAS for a very long time. But if you talk about experience, a cabin crew that has worked between 15 and 25 years have almost the same experience. They (airlines) might as well take the younger ones.

Another flight steward with MAS for 15 years is opposed to the VSS scheme.

“If possible, I do not want to the company to offer the VSS scheme. In the event if the employees refuse to take it, we might be forced into retrenchment. Plus, one and half month's pay multiplied by years of service under the VSS - if that is what is being offered - is not enough.

“Honestly, we are all under pressure that we might lose our jobs,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Union of Flight Attendants (Nufam) president Ismail Nasaruddin said the union is waiting for further details on the restructuring process.

“We are observing the details that Khazanah has given us for now.

6,000 is the targeted figure, but not necessarily all 6,000 people will leave. Not all employees will take up the VSS offer. So, our concern is what happens if the figure is not met, adding that positions of employees to be laid off and divisions that will be involved are still a question mark. 

Under a 12-point restructuring plan announced by Khazanah's Managing Director, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar on Friday,  the current MAS entity would come under 'Oldco' or old company while the new restructured entity would come under 'Newco' (new company) effective July 1, 2015.

“What is crucial is that when you have a Newco, there will be fresh contracts. What is stipulated under the new contract and the terms and conditions will be very important. That is also our main concern,” said Ismail.

He added that apart from the options that have been unveiled, the company might implement salary cut and long breaks for employees as a cost saving measure.