8 S’poreans join airline dismissal lawsuit, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories
Eight Singaporean flight attendants who were part of the United Airlines (UA) team based at Tokyo Narita Airport are suing the airline in Japan over their termination last year.
They are among a group of 83 flight attendants who filed papers in February alleging unfair dismissal, a complaint the U.S. airline reportedly asked the court to dismiss.
The group is seeking reinstatement as an employee of the airline, and want their wages to be paid from the date they were “separated” – a term used by UA when notifying their dismissal. ‘last year.
The lawsuit comes after UA closed three of its international bases – one each in Germany, Japan and Hong Kong – on October 1 last year as part of its efforts to cut costs amid the pandemic of Covid-19.
It currently has only one international base, in London.
UA said when announcing the closures in June last year that more than 800 jobs at the three bases would be affected.
While some crew members could move to the United States because they were eligible to work there, more than 600 flight attendants found themselves at risk of losing their jobs, the Hong Kong South China Morning Post reported in August. from last year.
In Japan, more than 200 flight attendants were eventually made redundant, according to local media.
Contacted by The Straits Times, the airline declined to comment on the civil lawsuit in Japan.
Law firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, which represents UA in the lawsuit, also declined to comment when asked by ST whether any defense documents had been filed in court.
But Japanese media report that the airline urged the Tokyo court to dismiss the lawsuit during proceedings last month, arguing that Japan lacks jurisdiction over it.
According to an English translation of the lawsuit document filed in court, the flight attendants claimed their dismissal was invalid under Japanese labor law.
They say that four legal conditions for such a dismissal have not been met: the need to reduce the number of employees; the relevance of the company’s efforts to avoid dismissal; the rationality of the selection of employees to be made redundant; and the reasonableness of termination procedures.
Even though there has been a sharp drop in profits due to a drastic drop in international flights, the situation is likely to stop or improve in the near future, the group has argued in court documents. .
The group also challenged the airline’s decision to offer voluntary leave to flight attendants based in the United States. They claimed that such an option was not given to them.
They also did not have the option to voluntarily retire with monetary payments and medical benefits, which were available to other flight attendants based in London or the United States, the group said.
They suggested that their own layoffs could have been a way for the airline to fire better paid employees.
Sekiya Law Offices, who represents the group in the lawsuit, told ST the next round of oral proceedings are scheduled for next month.
The lawsuit can take more than two years to resolve, the law firm said.
Singaporeans in the group ST spoke to said they had already left Japan.
One of them, Mr. Philip Leow, has since returned to Singapore.
The 65-year-old said he had worked for UA for about 35 years.
Another Singaporean in the group, who wished to be identified only as Ms Soon, joined her family in Australia.
She told ST that she had worked for UA for about 30 years and that it was her only job since leaving school.