About 20 staff members of BernamaTV (BTV), the broadcasting arm of the country’s official newswire agency, are now on mandatory leave after going for more than a month without being paid their wages.
A source from within BTV told Malaysiakini – under the condition of anonymity – that he had not been to work since this past Monday, as he could no longer afford the commute to the office.
The last paycheque these staff members received was on October 20, and they have yet be paid their salaries for work in November.
“I’ve got enough money to take care of the wife and kids, but not to go to and from work,” said the anonymous source.
The unpaid BTV staff range in portfolios from reporters, to assistant producers, to studio crew members.
Another employee griped about the situation thusly: “First they said we’d get paid this week, then they push it forward to next week.”
BTV editor-in-chief Zulkefli Salleh admitted to Malaysiakini that there ahve been some “delays” in paying out salaries to several staff members, and that the issue would be sorted out as soon as possible.
“We’ve already banked in the initial payment, and the full salaries will be deposited by next week,” he said.
The majority of BTV staff are employed by Bernama TV Synergy Sdn Bhd, a fully private company. Another 25 BTV staff members are public servants employed by the parent Bernama news agency, and have had no issues with their salary payments.
This is not the first time BTV has been late with paying out its employees. Wages were slow in coming in July, August, and September as well.
In October, Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek stepped in and promised to address and resolve the issue by year’s end.
He said the issue of late salary payments stemed from the callous attitude of the station’s private stockholders, and the lack of advertising revenue.
His deputy, Jailani Johari, announced in Parliament that BTV would be getting an injection of RM20 million to facilitate technical upgrading.
The Communications and Multimedia Ministry also plans to convert BTV’s format and turn it into a fully English-medium channel by next year.MYNEWSHUB