Utusan veterans urge new management to prioritise employees’ wellbeing

KUALA LUMPUR, The Utusan Melayu Malaysia Veterans Club (KVUM) today called on the company’s new management, Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd, to focus on several issues to safeguard the wellbeing of 862 employees who lost their jobs following the company’s decision to cease operations on Oct 9.

Club president Tan Sri Khalid Yunus said the salary and arrears of the workers including those who opted for the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) last year must be prioritised by the new management along with unpaid benefits such as travel and medical claims including unpaid gratuity payments which had not been paid since last year.

In addition, we ask the new management that took over Utusan Melayu to prioritise former employees who lost their source of income as a result of the cessation of the company’s operations if and when they decide to start a new publication.

We also ask the interim liquidator company appointed, UHY Advisory (KL) Sdn Bhd, to act in responsible manner by allowing the workers who will be represented by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Utusan Melayu branch and the Utusan branch of National Union of Newspaper Workers (NUNW) to be present to monitor the sale of company’s assets for the purpose of paying debt to mitigate any form of impropriety, he told a press conference here today.

Khalid said KVUM had also called on the Ministry of Human Resources to examine whether the company’s action was in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Act 1955 or any other existing law, fearing other companies would do the same to solve the company’s debt problems.

Last week, Utusan Melayu executive chairman Datuk Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir issued a a memorandum saying the company to cease operations on Oct 9 while the last day of service for workers is Oct 30.

NUJ branch also reportedly said that the headquarters building of Utusan Melayu which published Utusan Melayu, Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo! at Jalan Chan Sow Lin was seized and could no longer operate while the liquidator had given the workers two days to clear their desk and they have been put on leave until Oct 30.

The management agreed to pay the salary arrears for September and October after the last payment of arrears of salaries for July and August being deposited on Oct 4, while a briefing between the employees and the liquidator will be held on Oct 30.

Meanwhile, former Utusan Melayu group chief editor Tan Sri Johan Jaafar said the decision to stop company’s operations was not the best solution.

People who take over Utusan certainly know the current state of the newspaper industry, they have corporate knowledge and are involved in buying companies and turning an unprofitable company into a profitable one.

Why not use the same model. If you want to save Utusan brand, save the company as well. We don’t want this to set a precedent, what about the livelihoods of former employees, he said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)