Union: Umno not serious in mending Utusan

A Malaysian man reads a newspaper outside a shop in downtown Kuala Lumpur on October 10, 2012. — AFP pic
A Malaysian man reads a newspaper outside a shop in downtown Kuala Lumpur on October 10, 2012. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Peninsular Malaysia has called on other shareholders of Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd to save Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, claiming majority owner Umno has abandoned the paper and its staff.

In its biennial delegate conference, the union has urged the group’s secretary to call for an emergency meeting to determine the future of the daily.

“Umno itself is not serious in mending Utusan and defending the fate of the workers under it, despite various demands delivered to the party,” its secretary-general Chin Sung Chew said in a statement yesterday.

“Even more disappointing, the Umno General Assembly currently meeting does not at all make saving Utusan as a main agenda,” Chin added.

NUJ said Utusan’s situation has worsened following Umno’s appointment of Datuk Aziz Sheikh Fadzir.

This included late monthly wages, and the allegedly unfair voluntary separation scheme (VSS) offered to its staff recently, it said.

The VSS offer to 800 out of the Umno-controlled media company’s 1,500 staff had fewer benefits than retrenchment, according to the union’s collective agreement.

In August, the company had announced that it will sell new shares to as-yet unnamed third-party investors, making up not more than 10 per cent of the total stake.

This comes as the group announced that it has defaulted on two loans totalling RM1.2 million.

The group publishes the controversial Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, tabloid Kosmo!, and several magazines, including Mastika and URTV.