Staffers at shut­tered pa­per call for back pay

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­

Re­porters and editors from the now-de­funt daily Man­dalay Ah­lin are threat­en­ing le­gal ac­tion against their owner if over K26 mil­lion in fees and dam­ages is not soon paid.

RE­PORTERS and editors from the now de­funct Man­dalay-based daily news­pa­per Man­dalay Ah­lin are seek­ing nearly K26 mil­lion in fees and dam­ages which they believe they are owed.

At a press con­fer­ence in Man­dalay on Oc­to­ber 7, the 23 dis­grun­tled em­ploy­ees an­nounced that they would take le­gal ac­tion against the pa­per’s own­ers if they did not re­ceive pay­ment soon.

“We ask for our rights. The own­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive has given us no word on the money we are owed and didn’t an­swer our ques­tions. That is why we are hold­ing this press con­fer­ence – so that they might re­spond to us,” said Ma Thet Su Aung, who was a deputy chief reporter at the pa­per.

“We will take le­gal ac­tion against the pa­per’s owner if there is no an­swer shortly after this press con­fer­ence,” she added.

The Man­dalay Ah­lin was launched on Fe­bru­ary 17, 2015 and at its peak, sold 10,000 copies per day. It was pub­lished by The Mes­sen­ger Media, a com­pany owned by U Zaw Min Aye, son of for­mer Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion chair U Tin Aye.

In July this year, the pa­per stopped pub­lish­ing due to fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties caused by low ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue.

The com­pen­sa­tion amount sought by the news­pa­per’s for­mer em­ploy­ees is made up of un­paid fees and salaries, as well as dam­ages for breach of con­tract.

“We are only em­ploy­ees ask­ing for our rights. We want [the own­ers] to deal with the sit­u­a­tion. We do not want to take le­gal ac­tion but we will con­tinue to take le­gal ac­tion if the owner’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives will not re­ply,” said edi­tor U Thant Zin Oo.

The pa­per’s for­mer edi­tor also said that the em­ploy­ees had been told by the owner’s lawyer not to hold a press con­fer­ence and that the lawyer did not ad­dress the em­ploy­ees’ claims.

The pa­per’s editors and re­porters said they have sub­mit­ted com­plaints to the Myan­mar Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion and the Myan­mar Press Coun­cil in or­der to re­solve or me­di­ate their dis­pute. They also plan to file a com­plaint with the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion.

“Our 20-page news­pa­per ran ev­ery day and, apart from med­i­cal leave, we didn’t even take any off days. We tried our best to run the news­pa­per and now we just want to solve this prob­lem peace­fully,” Ko Zaw Naung Lin, an­other edi­tor at Man­dalay Ah­lin said dur­ing a sep­a­rate, si­mul­ta­ne­ous press con­fer­ence held in Yan­gon on Oc­to­ber 7.

‘We are only em­ploy­ees ask­ing for our rights.’ U Thant Zin Oo For­mer edi­tor

He added that the news­pa­per’s for­mer staff have been waiting for more than three months for a re­sponse from the for­mer owner, and have yet to even re­ceive a con­fir­ma­tion about their re­quest for fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment.

When ap­proached for com­ment by The Myan­mar Times, the head of ad­min­is­tra­tion for the Man­dalay Ah­lin, U Thein Win, said he had not yet re­ceived any in­struc­tions on the mat­ter. – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Shoon Naing, trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar

and Zar Zar Soe

Photo: Maung Zaw

A man holds up the last is­sue of the Man­dalay Ah­lin news­pa­per.

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