RB not to retrench staff or force them take unpaid leave, says minister

Izah Azahari

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah in his capacity as the Chairman of Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) Board of Directors said the company has not retrenched staff or made them go on unpaid leave in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

During a joint press conference at Al-‘Afiah Hall of the Ministry of Health yesterday, the minister added that even after the pandemic dies down, the travel industry might not immediately come back as companies will need time to assess ways in which they can return to the industry again, taking into account the position of their profit and loss.

“If they want to take unpaid leave, it’s based on individual voluntary arrangement,” added the minister. “Unlike other airlines who have the flexibility to terminate or ask people to go on unpaid leave, RB has not done that.”

With operations down by 95 per cent, only a small number of people are needed to operate at five per cent, in which the company is currently exploring options with their staff through having them take paid leave as there is nothing much to do at the office and there is no flying for most of the crew members.

“Hopefully when COVID-19 goes away and the travel industry starts to recover our people can really work hard and concentrate on helping the company,” said the minister.

“By helping the company, they are helping the government too. Hopefully our staff can understand this because this is not normal times.”

The minister said that this applies to all levels of the company and hopes that there will be cooperation from all of RB staff.

Meanwhile, in terms of the recently announced interim measures, the minister said it only applied to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). However, the minister explained that other businesses can still go to the bank if they are facing financial difficulties so that they can negotiate with the bank and see how the bank can aid the company to restructure.

“It would be helpful to the company as RB will continue to be here and we need it to stay healthy and continue operating and provide jobs for everyone. Don’t just look at a month or two, but the years to come,” said the minister.

File photo of a Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) aircraft