Utusan Melayu offers controversial VSS payments
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said that Utusan Melayu Bhd’s voluntary separation scheme (VSS) was dishonest and insincere.
According to the union’s collecting agreement the VSS which had been offered to 800 of the company’s 1,500 staff had less benefits than retrenchment.
The Union also said that Utusan had failed to look after its Malay employees.
“What is the use of Umno shouting about protecting the Malays all this while if the fate of Malay employees in their own company are not protected,” it said in a statement today.
NUJ also said that it was only told about the VSS at the very last minute, an hour before it was announced to employees at Utusan.
The union said the condition under the VSS offer of making payments through monthly installments for a year, instead of a lump sum, violated customary VSS practice.
It also recommended that UMNO as Utusan Melayu’s biggest shareholder review its decision which was made by chairman Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir.
The NUJ claimed that the decision to offer the VSS had been rushed through without first consulting the union.
It also questioned whether Utusan Melayu was genuinely capable of paying out the VSS.
NUJ said that if Umno could not review the VSS, then it should heed the union’s repeated calls for the party to surrender its shares in the media group.
The VSS exercise applies to both Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo!, as well as the group’s magazines Mastika, Saji, Infiniti, and Wanita.
Utusan has been in the financial doldrums for some time now with the union advising journalists to refrain from field work as a sign of protest against late salary payments.
The group’s annual report states that its total liabilities stood at RM328.17 million as of Dec 31, last year, up from RM302.2 million in 2016.