KUALA LUMPUR,. The financially distressed Utusan Melayu Bhd is offering all its over 1,300 workers a voluntary separation scheme, the Labour Department said.
According to The Edge Markets website, the publisher of Utusan Malaysia notified the Labour Department of its planned voluntary separation scheme (VSS) owing to its continued cash flow problems and unstable business environment.
The company in majority owned by Umno, the mainstay of the Barisan Nasional defeated in the general election.
According to department, Utusan also confirmed reports of unpaid salaries after it was investigated over a claim that staff were not paid since August.
“The offer will be made to all categories of staff: Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd, Utusan Karya Sdn Bhd, Utusan Media Sales Sdn Bhd,” the department was quoted as saying.
Utusan is offering to pay staff between one and one-and-half months for each year of service at the point of separation, payable in an unspecified number of instalments.
The department said Utusan expects to shed one in five workers with exercise.
“The Kuala Lumpur Labour Office has also called the employer and gave a briefing regarding actions that has to be taken and to help staff via JobsMalaysia to get [new] employment for those who are interested.”
In a Bursa Malaysia filing on August 20, Utusan Melayu said it has defaulted on loans from Bank Mualamat Malaysia Bhd and Maybank Islamic Bhd. It must come up with a regularisation plan within a year or risk being delisted from the stock exchange.
The firm was classified as PN17 due to an inability to maintain liquidity levels needed to keep its listing on the Malaysian stock exchange.
Its main publication, Utusan Malaysia, is a Malay vernacular newspaper that is effectively the mouthpiece of Umno.