None of our musicians are employed for life, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra said, defending its dismissal of its nine staff.
It claimed that the contracts of the nine musicians – some of whom had served with the orchestra since its inception in 1998 – had been coming to an end.
“Early this year, the MPO decided not to renew the service of a number of musicians whose contracts are coming to an end.
“Following the decision, a six-month contractual expiry notice was issued to each of the musicians, as required by the terms of their contracts,” a statement from the MPO read.
The MPO said that none of its staff were employed under “life-time” contracts, adding that musicians in other orchestras around the world had expiring contracts as well.
As such, it refuted accusations that it unfairly dismissed its staff, calling them “misplaced”.
Earlier this week, the French-based International Federation of Musicians (FIM) called for musicians to boycott the MPO’s New York auditions in October this year.
The orchestra is expecting to fill 14 vacancies in its line-up; some of these posts were held by the nine.
The FIM said that the Petronas-owned MPO had sent the nine staff, some of whom were members of the MPO’s committee, “non-renewal” notices without any reason whatsoever.
It claimed that seven of the staff had filed legal action before the Kuala Lumpur Industrial Relations Court, challenging the decision.
Other than the alleged sackings, the FIM alleged that “reduced” contracts with supposedly lesser benefits were being offered to “23 other” vacancies in the MPO.
Although acknowledging that new contracts were being offered, the MPO did not confirm or deny that these were agreements were “reduced”.
“All other musicians in the orchestra have been offered fresh contracts which they have accepted and they are looking forward to play in the new season,” the MPO said.
At the same time, it did not say why it chose not to renew the contracts of the dismissed nine, adding that their tenure was subject to the MPO’s management.
“All professional musicians performing with the MPO are employed on a fixed-term contract basis.
“The award of all contracts, including fresh contracts to musicians whose service is ending, is subject to the deliberation and decision of the MPO management – in consultation with its music direct [Claus Peter Flor] – and approved by its board of directors,” it said.