Some 543 employees at the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) are expected to receive their termination letters from parent company Media Prima today.
According to the publishing house’s union of journalists, the termination is to take effect from March 12 next year.
“NSTP NUJ hopes the retrenchment process goes smoothly and the compensation the company promised to give us will be delivered in accordance with the law so that we can look after the welfare of our members.
“We also hope this is the last round of retrenchment the company will undertake,” its chairman Farah Marshita Abdul Patah said in a statement.
She said a total of 543 staff from NSTP’s stable of one English-language and two Malay language papers are affected, New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro respectively.
Last month, Media Prima announced that it would undertake a transformation and restructuring exercise that would last until the first quarter of 2020.
Rumours within the industry suggest that the firm was looking to cut as many as 1,500 jobs.
According to sources Media Prima was looking to halve its editorial headcount for newspapers in its stable from the 90 or so each at News Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro.
However, the heaviest hits are expected to land on the group’s broadcasting arm in Sri Pentas, which houses TV stations TV3, NTV7, 8TV and TV9.
Once the country’s most influential publishing company, the NSTP group was bought over by Media Prima in 2009.
Last year, Media Prima sold Balai Berita, the building housing the NSTP’s central operations in Bangsar and its main printing plant in Shah Alam, Selangor to PNB Development Berhad for RM280 million.
Malaysia’s media industry has been struggling financially in recent years.
In the digital age traditional media is struggling to adapt their business models to survive in the new electronic world.
Increasing numbers of skilled employees are the collateral damage of this unevenly matched battle between print and digital media. As hard copies disappear from the nation’s trains, waiting rooms and office desks, thousands of workers are finding themselves redundant.
Ex-reporters who used to chase stories on the streets of Malaysia’s cities now find themselves slogging along those same streets trying to find other jobs to survive.
They are the fallout from the decline of legacy print media in the digital age.
In the recent turmoil of Utusan Malaysia’s on-again off-again attempts to survive, hundreds of journalists now find themselves out of a job.
They have to earn a living somehow. It’s not unusual for ex-employees to run into each other peddling kitchen utensils or perfume from their car boots on the streets.
Earlier this year, Malaysia’s oldest Bahasa Melayu newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, was forced to shut down due to insolvency and left hundreds jobless overnight.
It struggled to pay staff salaries in the final months of its career and still owes back pay to many. Even those who opted for an earlier voluntary separation scheme have not been fully compensated.
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