Friday March 22, 2013
MAS cabin crew to picket next week?
Frida Reflections - By B.K. Sidhu
THE National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) is said to be planning a public protest, or what is simply known as a picket, next week.
The union wants a new date for a secret ballot and its grouses to be heard, and has chosen to picket to get noticed.
The protest appears to be its last-ditch attempt to do something so that it can be recognised as the union body to represent the cabin crew of Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
In an organisation, there cannot be two unions representing the same group of people, but that's what's happening at MAS at the moment. If the Malaysian Airline System Employees Union (Maseu) has been there all this while, then how can Nufam claim such rights?
Hence, to resolve the issue, a secret ballot was supposed to have been held on Jan 8 so that the cabin crew could vote on which union they preferred to represent them. But just like a scene out of a movie, it was postponed at the eleventh hour at the request of the Human Resources Ministry because it needed more time to deliberate on the matter.
This week, Nufam, in a notice posted on its website and a copy made available to StarBiz, said: “Nufam will stage a full public protest against the Human Resources Ministry over the delay of the MAS Nufam secret ballot.”
The day has been set for March 28, the time; 1pm, and the place; the entrance and courtyard of the Human Resources Ministry.
Nufam is urging that “all cabin crew must come in full support”.
It is a fact that no one wants to be marginalised, and that everyone is entitled to their rights, but will Nufam get its way with the picket?
Further, is this the best way to get around the issue, i.e, taking to the streets to protest? Although Nufam knows best, isn't there a better way to resolve the dispute?
Nufam needs a mandate, and that is clear, as otherwise, it wouldn't be able to get anywhere. And if it does not get heard, then it might even consider legal recourse. Those in the know claim the loophole lies in Section nine of the Industrial Relations Act.
Not to be left out, Maseu too may not be sitting pretty. It has got its machinery working, with belt securely fastened, to remain the sole body representing the cabin crew.
Maseu, incidentally, is the inhouse union that represents the 3,730 cabin crew members of MAS besides representing the baggage handlers, clerical staff and ground engineers.
It has fewer than 7,000 members and has negotiated 12 collective agreements to date, with the last being for the 2011-2014 period for a 5% pay increase.
It looks like a tough fight ahead, although some have heavyweights backing them. Whatever the outcome, the impending general election is certainly the flavour of the month.
Deputy news editor B. K Sidhu is on a journey to test a new product. Let us see if it is worth her time.