Thursday, January 22, 2009


Sabah journalists can negotiate for salary review


Several local major newspapers feel that journalists in Sabah can negotiate their salaries and work benefits directly with their employers rather than having a third party do it for them. Although the idea of forming a union for journalists in the State is not considered a bad idea, they feel that a representative body for the local professionals is not necessary. “The local newspaper companies hire their editorial staff on a contract basis which is renewable every one or two years. “This allows them to negotiate salary increments, allowances and other benefits,” The Borneo Post’s Editorial Consultant, Eddy Lok, told Bernama.

Lok, a former Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Penang, said the local newspaper companies each had a small workforce compared with the national press and this encouraged one-to-one negotiation, not only for salary review but also other issues pertaining to work. Daily Express’ Chief Editor James Sarda said that should a union be formed to represent the welfare of journalists in Sabah, other benefits which they enjoyed compared with those in the peninsula might have to be reviewed. While the national journalists enjoyed yearly increments and longer annual leave, the local journalists were also getting other perks like more press holidays on top of annual leave, the former NUJ member said.

Meanwhile, New Sabah Times’ Managing Director Anthony Wong said the demand and supply of national newspapers were far greater than that of local newspapers. “Bear in mind that we only cater to Sabah and not the whole country. Therefore, our audience is very small and our circulation of about 23,000 copies at RM1.20 per copy for the whole of Sabah cannot beat 200 or 300 over thousand copies of the national dailies. “Advertisement revenue is also not enough to improve the staff’s salary. We are selling RM6.50 per column cm for advertisements, while national papers are selling at about RM48 per column cm. Even at RM6.50
advertisers are complaining that it’s pricey,” he said. However, Wong said, the New Sabah Times ensured that its staff received other allowances as well as bonuses every year. Last Sunday, NUJ representative Norila Mohd Daud met Sabah journalists and discovered that there are huge differences in perks enjoyed by journalists in the peninsula and those in Sabah although they are in the same vocation. Sabah Journalists Association (SJA) President Datuk Jonistan Bangkuai said the SJA would form a protem committee to discuss the matter with the NUJ. - Bernama