[UPDATE – Following the posting of this story yesterday, detailing the handling of concerns by relatives about unequal payments, Malaysia Airlines has finally come public today to explain openly what provision has been made so far. As voiced in the article below the issue was about the treatment of relatives over their perceptions of unfairness and the handling of this crisis. Our comment was “if the information that they have been offered less is untrue, then the surely the airline should have spared no time in reassuring them that are being treated equally?” MAS have now finally spoken publicly to say that for now each family will receive $5,000 hardship allowance. If only they had come out publicly when the concerns were voiced last week by family members after the initial decision to provide the support. Why at that time did it have to be a ‘confidential’ matter and why were these upset family members advised not to speak openly or discuss the issue? If MAS had been willing to be open sooner then the suspicion and grief could have been dealt with. There is much to learn from this disaster.]
After two weeks of what is generally judged as a disastrous mishandling of events, it appears that Malaysia Airlines has now committed a further act of gross insensitivity, according to exclusive information obtained by Sarawak Report.
Family members of the crew have confided they have been approached by the airline with the offer of ‘hardship money’ in recognition of the appalling situation involving their closest relatives.
However, they claim it is only half the sum that has been offered to families of passengers on board.
Some of the relatives were reportedly so upset when the offer was made that they told officials to keep the money, which is being presented by the airline as a goodwill payment.
“Imagine how this makes them feel” a close friend of one family told Sarawak Report. “They know that the family members of passengers have already been offered US$10,000 ‘hardship money’ and now they get this offer of US$5,000!
“Do they think that the lives and suffering of staff on their airline are of less value and importance than the lives and suffering of passengers? It has added immense and unnecessary pain at this unbearable time”
Another close relative of one of the family members, who have been kept separately from passenger relatives in the Marriot Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, explained to Sarawak Report that the money was being presented as a one-off payment, as a form of hardship allowance, whist the search and rescue is being carried out.
“it adds salt to the wound. It is about how life is valued. It is not the amount that matters, it is the difference in amount. If it was just one ringgit compared to 50 cents it would be just as hurtful. Who could have sat down and come to such a callous distinction between people’s worth, especially when we are talking about Malaysia Airlines own loyal staff members?”
This issue has emerged on the very evening that the airline, in another astonishing act of insensitivity, chose to inform relatives via text message that hope has now been officially given up of finding their loved ones alive.
Time for more transparency from Malaysia Airlines
So far Malaysia Airlines staff have failed to deny any of these concerns about differentiated payments, say relatives of the crew.
Yet, if the information that they have been offered less is untrue, then the surely the airline should have spared no time in reassuring them that are being treated equally?
Instead, it has emerged that airline officials, who are closely managing the cabin staff relatives in their segregated hotel, have resorted to warnings about confidentiality and apparent threats.
Sarawak Report has learnt that at a briefing earlier this evening airline officials warned the relatives that they had detected that there have been ‘discussions’ about this sensitive matter.
The officials went on to tell the relatives that the hardship payments have been volunteered by the airline as a matter of ‘goodwill’ and that they are a ‘confidential matter’, which should not be spoken about.
The relatives were then individually warned by the airline’s ‘Care Advisors’ that it would not do them any good to ‘turn against’ the company, which was trying to help them, because “at the end of the day it is the company that will be looking after them”.
This has struck fear amongst a good number of the relatives, Sarawak Report understands, because of the thinly veiled threat implied against their future financial well-being.
This is especially so after tonight’s dreadful announcement by the Prime Minister Najib Razak that the plane is now officially being declared as lost and the passengers deceased.
In an equally insensitive manner Malaysian Airlines saw fit to inform the relatives of this devastating development by text message!
The text message sent to families by Malaysia Airlines announcing the loss of the plane said: “Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived… we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.” [BBC]
UK£67million (RM365million) insurance was paid to airline for hardship money
Under these painful and upsetting circumstances the patronising and controlling stance by the airline appears scarce credible, as does the demand for secrecy over payments made to relatives.
The world’s press has already covered the fact that insurers have forked out £67million to the airline in order to cover hardship payments, meaning the ‘goodwill’ payments so far remain far short of the sums to which relatives ought to be eventually entitled.
With 239 affected passengers each family should be looking at a sum of around £280k [corrected] by these sums alone. So, why the demands for confidentiality and self-serving claims about ‘generous goodwill’ by the airline?
Given the airline’s performance so far it is highly unlikely that secrecy and confidentiality in this matter is in any of the relatives interests. Nor are bullying and threats acceptable towards people who are suffering so badly as a result of the airline’s failure to detect its own missing airplane.
Malaysia Airlines should say sorry to the relatives and come clean on this issue. Have they or have they not differentiated in their payments to different families so far and if so why?