Messenger media faces unpaid compensation claim

YANGON — A media company run by the son of former Union Election Commission chairman U Tin Aye is facing complaints that it owes money to workers who lost their jobs in a failed Mandalay venture.

Messenger Media closed its daily, Mandalay Alin Daily News, on July 14 – less than 18 months after it launched – citing financial difficulties.

Nearly three months on, the 23 editorial staff laid off from the shuttered paper still haven’t been paid their entitlements, they say. They allege that Messenger Media owes them more than K15.5 million.

Messenger is owned by U Zaw Min Aye, the son of former general Tin Aye, who as UEC chairman oversaw last year’s general election.

U Thant Zin Oo and U Zaw Naung Lin, who were both editors at Mandalay Alin, said at a press conference on Friday that 23 staff had lost their jobs when the paper went under. Of those, only one had received compensation.

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Thant Zin Oo said that days before Mandalay Alin closed, Zaw Min Aye had assured him the paper’s staff would be paid compensation as soon as possible.

He said the company had also stopped paying agreed contribution fees – incentives designed to increase productivity – for nearly a year before the closure, constituting a further K1 million.

Zaw Naung Lin said staff had tried to contact Zaw Min Aye many times by email, phone and Facebook chat, but had received no reply.

“When we announced yesterday that we would hold this press conference, he asked us not to do it,” Zaw Naung Lin said. “It was the first time he had spoken to us in the past three months.”

Frustrated at the delay, they have sought help from the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and Myanmar Media Council. They also plan to write to the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population to ask them to solve the dispute. Failing that, they will consider legal action, Thant Zin said.

Frontier could not reach Messenger Media for comment.

Messenger closed its daily Yangon-based daily newspaper Messenger in late 2015, but still publishes a weekly paper, also called Messenger.

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