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Unions’ support vital for MAS’ new turnaround plan

June 15, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: A union is usually described as a democratic organisation of working people standing up for their rights on the job.

On the other hand, it is also said that unions can also be unreasonable to deal with when they put pressure on companies in terms of wages or their attitude towards certain company policies.

In the case of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), its workers’ unions were opposed to the share-swap arrangement with AirAsia and hence the subsequent rescinding of the deal.

It is common knowledge that they were unhappy over certain arrangements which they deemed as having put MAS at a disadvantage to the low-cost carrier.

Certain quarters have also questioned the lapses in judgment by MAS’ major shareholders which had contributed to the brief but failed tie-up.

But going forward, MAS needs the support of its various employees’ unions for any new turnaround exercise while its employees should embrace change so that they will have a better and more secured future, say analysts.

RAM Holdings Group chief economist Yeah Kim Leng said regaining its lustre as one of Asia’s premier international carriers is not going to be easy as the global airline industry is facing an increasingly tough and challenging environment.

Rising fuel costs, falling demand, fierce competition and challenging regulatory environments are plaguing the industry, he told Bernama.

Against this grim backdrop, all airlines have to contend with the constantly changing business landscape, failing which the weak, uncompetitive and inefficient will be driven out.

Onus on unions

Yeah believed that restructuring in various industrial sectors and companies were happening at a much faster pace in the country in response to the rapid internationalisation of trade, investment and business opportunities amidst the need to escape the middle-income trap syndrome.

Once the plans to revitalise MAS have been unveiled, the onus will be on the employees’ unions to rally around their company.

Yeah also said the MAS management would also have to work hard to fully harness its human capital and motivate its workforce to improve areas like cost efficiency, productivity and service quality to realise the company’s business goals.

The critical success factors, he said, would be the ability to execute the airline’s business strategies effectively and this has to be communicated to its employees with the cooperation of their unions.

Sharing the same view, another analyst who requested anonymity, said as MAS is essentially a service-oriented business and a government-linked company, the airline certainly needed the unions’ support to turn around.

“The unions should give assurance that their members are supporting the management’s turnaround plan while the management has also to give assurance on job security,” he said.

The unions, he said, have to accept changes in a number of areas so that MAS would have a strong chance to grow again.

– Bernama


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