MTUC ‘disappointed’ with Riot’s decision in MAS retrenchment case

File photo of MTUC Sarawak Division secretary Andrew Lo.

KUCHING: Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak Division has expressed disappointment with Minister of Human Resources Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem for not referring the case of the 3,600 staff who were retrenched by Malaysian Airlines (MAS) in 2015 to the Industrial Court.

MTUC Sarawak Division secretary Andrew Lo was responding to the MAS retrenchment, in which Riot said that the ministry could not go after MAS since the company did not exist after it had been wound up.

“Actually in two cases that MTUC Sarawak handled, the ministry is currently prosecuting directors of a company in Kuching who failed to comply with the Industrial Court judgment to pay compensation to ex-employees,” he said in a press statement today.

MTUC believe that the MAS case should have been referred to the Industrial Court as questions of law should only be dealt with by the court.

“Even if MAS is no longer in existence, the Industrial Court has the powers to join any other related party to make its award effective and enforceable,” he added.

“The question of whether the retrenchment was justified or not should be best left to the court, after a full hearing of all the facts, to decide,” he continued.

Lo emphasised that this case further reinforced MTUC’s long outstanding call that there should be direct reference of dismissal cases to the Industrial Court and not at the discretion of the minister.

“This has contributed to the delay, as it happened in this case. It has taken more than two years for him to decide not to refer,” he concluded.

Two days earlier, Riot explained that his ministry is not required by law to explain the delay in taking up the cases of 3,600 retrenched MAS workers since letters of explanation have also been sent out to 1,500 out of the 3,600 retrenched workers.

Last month, the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia questioned why it took the ministry two years to decide not to refer the cases of 3,600 retrenched MAS workers to the Industrial Court.

Queried on this matter, department director-general Khalid Jali said this was due to a moratorium on the transition of MAS to Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) which had been in place. It ended on May 24, 2017.

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