Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MALAYSIA:::KTMB sacks top union leaders, 110 other railwaymen await fate

Malaysia's main rail operator has sacked two top union officials while another 110 are awaiting their fate after taking part in a picket on May 9, the Railwaymen's Union of Malaya (RUM) confirmed today.
The sacked officials, RUM president Abdul Razak Md Hassan and his deputy R. Subramaniam, described their termination as a travesty of justice.
Razak told The Malaysian Insider that they received their termination letters from Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) last Friday.
"We were informed that our services were no longer required and our termination was with immediate effect," Razak said.
"Besides us, 12 other RUM members are awaiting their disciplinary hearing once a domestic inquiry has been completed by KTMB.
"110 RUM members have been issued showcause letters by KTMB, which appears to be slowly identifying who else was involved in the picket on May 9," Razak said.
Razak was referring to the picket which was held to pressure KTMB president Datuk Elias Kadir to step down. About 700 RUM members had participated in the protest.
"Elias moves too slowly and appears to be driving KTMB into the ground. The current dire straits KTMB finds itself in is testament to that," Razak said.
He said an audit conducted in 2011 showed that the company suffered RM100 million in losses, which nearly tripled to RM280 million in 2012.
"The sacking is not justifiable because we were participating in one of RUM's activities," Razak said.
"Under Section 4 of Act 177 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967, it is clearly stated that no person shall interfere or coerce a workman from participating in union activities.
"We were clearly carrying out RUM activities during our picketing to agitate for the removal of Elias as KTMB president," he told The Malaysian Insider.
Razak pointed out that between 1961 and 1963, KTMB workers picketed for 23 days, bringing the railway operations to a complete halt.
"Nobody was sacked or subjected to disciplinary action during the picket. It was a rough time for KTMB.
"Our picketing was mild compared to what had occurred almost 50 years ago. So what is KTMB's justification for sacking me and Subramaniam?"
Razak claimed that the safety of workers, train crews and passengers were at an all-time low, with the KTMB locomotives overdue for an overhaul.
"If you use a car for 10 to 15 years, even the engine would give way eventually. But KTMB has only carried out minor repairs on the locomotives."
Razak said it was the same for the passenger coaches and the power generator cars, all of which were long overdue for major repairs.
He said the railway tracks were also in a bad shape, which forced trains to travel at the minimum speed.
Razak did not rule out the possibility that Elias's actions may have been related to the proposed privatisation of KTMB by MMC Corp Bhd, owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.
"Subramaniam and I have filed complaints over our controversial sacking with the Industrial Relations Department. There is no justification for our termination by KTMB."
The loss-making KTMB has been the target of several companies keen to take it private, including MMC and Gamuda Bhd.
Earlier this year, MMC had been keen to form a joint venture with Gamuda to take over KTMB in a deal worth more than RM5 billion but the deal did not materialise.
MMC has since presented a proposal to privatise the cargo operations of KTMB and initial estimates put the sum at RM2 billion. – September 3, 2014.

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