Malaysia's Human Resources Ministry has ordered newspaper Utusan Malaysia (Utusan), which ceased operations earlier this month, to fully pay all its 815 workers' September and October salaries by the end of this month.

This was reported by New Straits Times, in an article shared on Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran's Facebook page.

Apart from that, the firm was also ordered to pay full compensation to all of its workers who had opted to receive its voluntary separation scheme (VSS). In total, this would add up to 708 workers, including those from Utusan's sister publication, Kosmo!.

In a statement cited by New Straits Times, the ministry said: "During a meeting between UHY Advisory Sdn Bhd (the interim liquidator appointed by Utusan) and the Department of Labour in Peninsular (JTKSM) at the latter's headquarters in Putrajaya on 11 October, the company (UHY) had been asked to ensure that all affected workers received their compensation according to the Employment Act 1955.

"The newspaper's company, on the other hand, has been asked to submit the Employment Retrenchment Form and issue a notice of termination or pay the indemnity to its workers."

A brief background of the situation

On 9 October, Utusan issued a memorandum stating that the company was suffering from cash flow constraints, following inspections carried out by JTKSM, and said that it would cease all operations effective immediately.

After a failed attempt to sell of the company's assets in efforts to restore cash flow, Utusan decided to "undertake a creditors' voluntary liquidation through the appointment of UHY Advisory as the interim liquidator."

In assisting the affected employees, the ministry said: "JTKSM also suggested that UHY Advisory and Utusan with the cooperation of the Labour Department, to carry out programmes to provide employment advice to help the affected workers."

These programmes would involve organisations including the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO), Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency, and JobsMalaysia.

According to the ministry, UHY Advisory will be conducting a briefing session for Utusan employees on 30 October, to discuss further steps to be taken in assisting them.

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