Workers union calls on state govt to set up state-owned airlines

Jagjiwan Singh

KUCHING, Oct 27: Perhaps now is high time for the Sarawak government to look into the possibility of having a state-owned commercial airline, Airlines Workers’ Union Sarawak (AWUS) president Jagjiwan Singh suggested today.

By so doing, it will have ready manpower from workers who have been laid off by Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) and its subsidiaries such as Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), MASwings Sdn Bhd (MW), Aerodarat Services (ADS) and MABkargo based in Sarawak.

“This is perhaps the best option. A home-grown commercial airline run by the state government will enable the state to have better connectivity within Sarawak and beyond, instead of being dictated to by airlines based from outside the state. It will also ensure Sarawak is connected to the right destination of choice,” Jagjiwan asserted in a statement today.

He disclosed that the current early retirement scheme being offered to Malaysia Airlines employees is the third since the first round of layoffs, through a mutual separation scheme (MSS) in 2006.

The second round of lay-offs was from 2015 till 2017 through the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS)

Malaysia Airlines System Berhad (MAS) itself was also closed down in 2015 under a restructuring programme and was replaced by a new company, MAB, and its other subsidiaries with MAG eventually becoming its parent company.

“Many Sarawakians employed by Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiaries in Sarawak were hard hit during the restructuring schemes in 2006 and 2015 as there are not many areas in Sarawak that have a need for skills related to the airline industry.

“Also, many of the affected workers were past their prime for reskilling to other industries while pay-outs from the MSS/VSS didn’t last very long due to various personal commitments prior to their lay-off,” he said.

Jagjiwan also commended Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for taking a keen interest in the latest development affecting Malaysia Airlines and its staff, especially those affected by the VSS.

“The union is hopeful this will make it easier for the state government to provide assistance to the affected Sarawakian employees to be assimilated into other industries in the state.

“The statement by our Chief Minister shows that he is closely monitoring the latest development with a view to assisting affected Sarawakians currently employed by the national airline. This is a welcome sign and timely,” added Jagjiwan.

Some 300 MAG employees in Sarawak will be affected by the latest VSS exercise. — DayakDaily