Labour Dept: Utusan to offer VSS to all 1,300 staff, payment by instalments

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 22): The Labour Department says Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd plans to offer voluntary separation scheme to all its 1,300 workers due to the company's financial problems and unstable condition, and that the company intends to make the VSS payment via instalments.

This confirmed a report by theedgemarkets.com on Friday (Sept 21), citing sources, that the company is offering VSS to its workers.

In a statement notifying the Human Resources Ministry about the matter, which was provided to theedgemarkets today, the department said it has held talks with Utusan on Aug 16 after allegations surfaced that Utusan wished to terminate its employees.

It also confirmed that Utusan has delayed paying staff salaries after the Kuala Lumpur Labour Office probed the matter on Sept 18, following a MalaysiaKini report dated Sept 15 that staff pay has been delayed 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 said.
The suggested offer is 1 month-1.5 months pay for every year of service, to be paid in instalments.

"It is expected that as many as 20% of staff (all categories) will accept the offer," the department said, adding it has continued to have talks with Utusan, urging it to pay the staff direct instead of via instalments.

"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," it added. 

Utusan's share price fell 17.7% or 3 sen to 14 sen on Friday, following news of the impending VSS, trimming its market capitalisation to RM15.5 million. The stock has slumped some 64% in the past 12 months.