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MAS-Air Asia merger flies into turbulent weather

 | September 17, 2011

The MAS-Air Asia merger is shrouded in secrecy and the MAS employees have been left in the lurch,says Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim

PETALING JAYA: The downside of the MAS -Air asia metrger is that the MAS workers have been left in the lurch. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim  says this is because neither the government or the affected airlines have been transparent.

Anwar who claims that he was in contact with MAS employees said no information was given to the MAS staff.

” They must be told that their performance was not up to the mark… what is the problem, and what is their position going to be after the so-called merger or take-over?” Anwar asked during a press conference at PKR’s headquarters here.

“It’s all shrouded in secrecy, that is the trouble with this  government.”

He also said that nothing had been said about the possible welfare of MAS staff, adding that the carrier’s workers were left in the dark about their fate.

“But you know, there’s always this management once they take over, they give this option, and people will be persuaded to take another option. These are concerns that must be addressed,” Anwar replied to the possiblity of layoffs.

The Opposition Leader was also concerned with Air Asia’s lack of an in-house union, which may be carried over to MAS once the merger took place.

Anwar then claimed that he had been informed that Air Asia employees who tried to form their own union were subsequently sacked.

MAS and Air Asia  announced the merger last month.

However, both Air Asia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes and Khazanah Nasional Bhd -a major shareholder of MAS- managing director Azman Mokhtar denied that it was a merger, preferring to call it a “collaboration”.

They also denied that a monopoly would arise out of this “collaboration”.

Uncertain of their fate, 15,000 MAS employees on the other hand have threatened to stage a picket.

They believed that the merger as well as the rumoured creation of a new airline known as Sapphire Air, would weaken their union’s powers.

Though threatening to bring the matter to the Dewan Rakyat, Anwar said that he would not be joining MAS employees in a picket one month from now.

Calling the picket a “last resort”, the Opposition Leader hoped that both MAS and and Air Asia would have an answer for the employees.

“They have (tried to go through channels), but there have been no answers in Parliament, no answers to the public, no answers to the union,” he said.

Anwar also said that it was unfair for the government to blame MAS’s poor performance on its workers. He said that its management should be held responsible as well.

The picket threat is the second of its kind by government employees in recent months.

In late July, prior to Ramadhan, the Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya (RUM) demanded that KTMB’s (Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhard) president Aminuddin Adnan step down, threatening a work-to-rule measure.


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