Sacked for being 0.7kg overweight: Union says it’s ‘inhumane’

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia says overweight crew members can still perform their work and are not a ‘safety hazard’. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) has called for justice after the “erroneously inhumane” sacking of an airline crew member from Malaysia Airlines for being 0.7kg overweight.

Flight supervisor Ina Meliesa Hassim filed a case against Malaysia Airlines in September 2017 for wrongful dismissal. Last Friday, the Industrial Court ruled in favour of the national carrier.

“Justice and basic human rights have died once more,” Nufam said in a statement today.

“Where is the justice which the country has been promoting via our Constitution?”

“We know the recent case may be a victory lap for MAB (Malaysia Airlines Berhad) and some airlines who also wish to get rid of their ‘old and slow’ employees, but that will not stop Nufam from continuing to condemn such mistreatment against cabin crew employees.”

In his decision, Industrial Court chairman Syed Noh Said Nazir @ Syed Nadzir said the airline had proved “on the balance of probabilities” the termination was with just cause or excuse.

It was reported that Ina Meliesa was dismissed for repeatedly failing to meet the airline’s weight requirement under a weight management programme for 18 months, which Malaysia Airlines said was part of its effort “to maintain its image as a premium airline”.

As Ina Meliesa’s height was 160cm, the maximum permissible weight under the company’s guidelines was 61kg. Her weight was 61.7kg at the last official weigh-in on April 10, 2017.

Noting that many major airlines still continue to retain overweight staff – some who have even become “grandmothers and grandfathers” – Nufam said such crew members can still perform their work and are not a “safety hazard” to the passengers and crew on board.

It also urged the government to amend labour laws which discriminate on such grounds, saying that it would be writing to the human resources ministry and the transport minister to ask them to reconsider such terminations by airlines.

“MAB should not feel happy or proud over the court decision as it only reflects poorly on the airline itself, displaying how an international airline has practised discriminatory (practices) while at the same time terming their overweight cabin crew employees as ‘no longer needed and slow’.

“Nufam has learnt that the airline is constantly looking to hire young, lean and slim cabin crew – but what will happen to them later if they were to grow beyond the weight limit in the next coming years?

“How will the female cabin crew maintain the airline’s ideal weight if they become pregnant later? Will the airline ground them and fire them, too?” Nufam asked.