Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sacked RAC staff hit out at treatment

Sacked RAC staff hit out at treatment

Sacked RAC staff hit out at treatment

A BOUT 200 Royal Air Cambodge (RAC) employees - 40 per cent of its staff - have

been transferred to the air force in the first major shakeup of the fledgling

airline.

The move, met with anger by those transferred, led to a spate of

vandalism and looting of RAC property at Pochentong Airport.

Company

officials say police are investigating to find the culprits.

Meanwhile,

some of the 200 transferred staff - who were given six months' salary as

compensation - are complaining about their treatment.

A group of them

told the Post that of the 200, only about 30 have been given positions in the

air force. Others have resigned, while the remainder have been told to check in

at the Pochentong air force base every morning and night and wait to see whether

they get jobs.

The disgruntled group criticized RAC management of

"patronage".

"Most of the remaining staff at RAC [belong to] the clans of

some government officials," said one.

"[The restructuring] was supposed

to have been done two months earlier, but was delayed due to a change of staff

who were supposed to be transferred."

RAC chairman Vichit Ith, at a May

27 press conference, proclaimed the restructuring had been conducted fairly and

in the best interests of the airline.

"We are a private company and in a

highly competitive business. We have to maintain and improve our standard of

services to attract more passengers to fly with us."

He said the staff

cuts, which had been recommended by First Prime Minister Prince Norodom

Ranariddh, were necessary to improve efficiency and profitability.

Safian

Md. Salleh, RAC commercial affairs manager, said the airline was not a

"charitable organization" and had to be managed profitably and with the right

number of employees

The restructuring had been decided upon by RAC's

shareholders - the Cambodian government and Malaysian Helicopter Services.

Dr Amin Khan, RAC chief operating officer, said one-on-one interviews

were held with all of RAC's 500 staff to determine which ones should be

removed.

Officials said the remaining staff would receive training,

uniforms benefits such as medical care, and higher salaries.

Vichit Ith

said RAC planned to begin flights to China and Laos and secure two new

aircraft.

Before the restructuring, RAC had 500 staff, former employees

of Kampuchea Airlines until RAC became its successor.

RAC, started in

January, is 60 per cent owned by the Cambodian government and 40 per cent by

Malaysian Helicopter Services, which is affiliated to Malaysian

Airlines.

Vichit Ith was recently appointed its chairman, after the

unexpected resignation of Prince Sisowath Chivan Monirak in late

April.

Ith's appointment has been questioned by some lawyers because he

is also Secretary-General of the Cambodian Investment Board - in charge of

handling foreign investment in Cambodia.

Ith, however, disputed the

suggestion there was any conflict of interest in the two jobs.

He said he

was not a member of the government, and the Cambodian Investment Board was in no

way competing with RAC.

His appointment merely reflected the government's

eagerness to put professional, qualified people in charge of businesses it was a

shareholder in.

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