Utusan delaying salaries since January, union claims

NUJ members (from left) Muhammad Basir Abu Bakar, Chin Sung Chew and Baharuddin Yaacob at the press conference to urge Utusan to pay staff salaries.

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has asked Utusan Melayu Berhad, the company which publishes Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, to settle salaries owed to 769 staff.

The workers had complained of delays in salaries and claims since January this year.

NUJ secretary-general Chin Sung Chew said Utusan should sell off its assets in order to pay the salaries.

“The staff are now still waiting for their July salary,” said Chin.

“Executive staff have not been paid for almost three months. In June, the executive staff were only paid RM2,000,” he said at a press conference at the NUJ office today.

Chin claimed that some staff have resorted to borrowing from loan sharks and family members to support their monthly expenses, while others have pawned their gold for extra cash.

He said the unpaid salaries amounted to more than RM3.2 million a month.

Chin also accused the company of not paying contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organisation (Socso), Tabung Haji and zakat despite deductions from staff salaries.

“If Utusan can pay some money to our members weekly, that would help too. But Umno seems to be neglecting their needs,” he said, adding that Umno, the paper’s former owner, was using Utusan chairman Aziz Sheikh Fadzir as its proxy.

“Umno has often claimed to fight for the rights of the Malays but the reality is their own Malay staff have not been looked after,” said Chin.

He said NUJ will hold a picket outside the Utusan office on Aug 19 if salaries are still not paid.