Monday, December 15, 2008

Unemployment Rate May Reach 4.5%

MEF anggar 400,000 diberhentikan kerja

KUALA LUMPUR 22 Dis. – Persekutuan Majikan-majikan Malaysia (MEF) menjangka pemberhentian pekerja di negara ini akan serius tahun depan dengan anggaran 200,000 hingga 400,000 orang hilang pekerjaan.

Pengarah Eksekutif MEF, Shamsuddin Bardan berkata, pemberhentian pekerja itu tidak dapat dielakkan ekoran kelembapan ekonomi yang diramalkan pada suku tahun pertama dan kedua tahun 2009.

Menurutnya, mereka yang bakal diberhentikan di peringkat awal akan melibatkan pekerja asing dalam sektor pembuatan, elektrik dan elektronik.

‘‘Bagi syarikat-syarikat yang berurusan dengan Amerika Syarikat khususnya, tempahan produk amat perlahan disebabkan kegawatan ekonomi teruk di sana. - Utusan


By: Zulkifli Musa
Dec 16th, 2008

The Malaysia unemployment rate is in danger of rising and may hit 4.5% figure next year, according to the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER).

According to MIER’s executive director, Professor Emeritus Dr Mohamed Arif Abdul Kareem, 12,000 people are jobless in the third quarter, and the number is set to increase in the next few coming months.

More companies are expected to slash their expenditure, shrink their company size and as a result, more people will be losing jobs. A small number of companies may also go bust. Research by MIER also indicates that manufacturing sector may become the most highly hit casualty, just like during the late 90s economic downturn.

At the moment, the country’s unemployment rate fluctuates at a steady rate of 3.5%. During the vibrant economy in the 80s and 90s, the jobless stood between 2 to 2.5 percent, indicating that today’s situation is not looking so good.

The 4.5% figure represents perhaps a more accurate assessment based on the current economic situation as Malaysia is now preparing the backlash of the credit crunch and subprime mortgage originating from the United States. In November, the second finance minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcob issued a statement that the country’s unemployment rate would not go beyond 4% in 2008 and even in 2009.

Who is telling the truth? We’ll see.

Layoff For Another Penang Factory
Dec 15th, 2008

Venture Electronics (M) Sdn Bhd, an electronic services company operating in Bayan Lepas, Penang, has terminated 70 management staff, including senior managers, signaling more bad news to those working in the northern state at the moment.

Letters indicating the termination were disseminated to the affected employees, stating that their employment ceased on December 2008.

It also indicated that the employees involved in the lay off would be compensated according to the Malaysia Employment Act 1955.

The decision for the layoff come in the wake of turbulent economic condition and as the company is embattled with getting back to profitability.

An EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Services) company, Venture Electronics, which also belongs to the Venture Corporation Limited of Singapore, provides design, testing and manufacturing services to other clients, and has been operating in Butterworth since 1990s. Hewlett Packard (HP), Agilent Technologies, IBM and Intermec are some of their clients. Venture Electronics was formerly known as Iomega (M) Sdn Bhd.

An EMS or Electronic Manufacturing Services company is a type of company that undertakes the outsourcing job to produce, manufacture and distribute the products on behalf of another company, allowing its customer to focus on its core competencies and business.

Apart from Penang, the Venture group operates its factories in Johor (Malaysia), China, United States and Europe. For some of the employees affected with the retrenchment, the timing of the layoff could have not been worse as some of their children are starting new school term in the next few weeks.


Massive Job Cut for Bank of America
By: Zulkifli Musa
Dec 16th, 2008

The Bank of America, BoA intends to make itself as the new world’s largest bank, but it will come not without collateral damages. And the damage will not look pretty.

The bank, which acquired Merrill Lynch on the day Lehman Brothers went bust in September, announced that up to 35,000 jobs will be cut in the next 3 years. All divisions and business units will be affected with the job cut.

Merrill Lynch acquisition involves a $50 billion rescue deal, with the result of the merger seeing a new, combined workforce total of more than 300,000 employees worldwide. Prior to the merger, Bank of America had close to 250,000 employees while Merrill Lynch had 60,000. The 35,000 figure represents about 11% of the new total employee size.

The acquisition will also turn BoA as America’s largest bank by asset. It will double its investment banking business, as well as own the largest retail brokerage business. Bank of America’s rival, Citibank recently announced a layoff of 75,000 people.

While the final details of the layoff will only be released next year, any impending news shall be deemed as bad.


Citibank Job Cut Arrives in Malaysia
By: Zulkifli Musa
Nov 20th, 2008

Citigroup’s job cut wave seems to have arrived in Malaysia, sparking fear of job loss for some of the 4,000 staff the group employs under its flagship bank, Citibank.

In a news published by the Business Times, the CEO of Citibank Malaysia, Sanjeev Nanavati was reported to say that “staff numbers will be cut slightly as it seeks to be more efficient and productive”.

However, no details of the job cut plan was disclosed or elaborated.

Citibank Malaysia’s staff are scattered around 7 branches located in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang.

A few days ago, Citigroup, from its global headquarter in New York, announced a massive layoff exercise involving more than 50,000 staff worldwide working in various divisions and subsidiaries of the group, including Citibank. It is part of the plan to trim the company’s total workforce by 20%. The layoff also involves selling off some risky and unprofitable assets, which will result in the transfer of the group’s employees to different companies.

Citibank is the first bank from the United States to have started their operation in Malaysia. As of February 2008, Citibank is the 7th largest bank in the world by market capitalization, in a list dominated by banks from China, with three of them occupying the top 10 ranking.


Penang Factories Shutting Down Plants
By: Zul Name: Zulkifli Musa
Nov 14th, 2008

A number of prominent factories in Penang, northern Malaysia have begun cutting their expenditures by temporarily shutting down their plants and letting their staff go for forced leave.

Unconfirmed sources indicated that Agilent Technologies, Flextronics, Jabil Circuit, AMD, Spansion and ASE Electronics are among those which are ready to shut their plants between November and December.

The fate of Dell’s employees, on the other hand is still in doubt after the company has been reported to be sourcing for potential buyers from the outsourcing market. Not far from Penang, rumour is fast spreading that Silterra, which operates its facilities in Kulim, Kedah may be forced to close its business due to disasterous losses in the last 3 years.

Recruitment and hiring are running at a snail’s pace, and some of the companies may have to resort to retrenching and shrinking their workforce size in order to survive.

The scenario looks like a repeat of the Asian financial crisis ten years ago, where many manufacturing companies in Penang closed their business in flock. Shutting down plant is one of the popular ways for manufacturing companies to reduce its cost of expenditure, but if this exercise fails to bring back the company on track to profitability, then the employees may be facing their worst nightmares as retrenchment may not be too far away.

Dell May Sell Penang Factory
By: Zulkifli Musa
Sep 9th, 2008

The fate of over 1,500 Dell employees in its Penang factory has been put into doubt after recent news disclosing the possibility of the company selling its factories to potential buyers.

The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times were among the first international media which covered the news, followed by local newspapers yesterday, including NST.

It is said that Dell has approached a number of contract and EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Services) manufacturers about the possible plan of taking over the plants’ operation. It wasn’t clear about which countries will be affected with the move but it will be one or more from 6 of the countries Dell currently operates in - United States, Malaysia, China, Brazil, Ireland and Poland.

Many see it as a move by the company to follow their closer rivals - Hewlett Packard (HP) and Apple in outsourcing their manufacturing function and instead focus on the design and marketing work.

Presently, Dell employs close to 30,000 people worldwide. Between 2007 and 2008, under the helm of the come-back CEO Michael Dell, the company underwent a series of plant closures and redundancies of workers, which slashed the company’s workforce by 9,000 people, representing a 10% shrink in employee size.

Apart from the manufacturing facility, Dell also has a cell center and customer support operation in Bayan Lepas, Penang, employing more than 1,000 staff working around the clock. Dell is often considered among the top manufacturing companies to work in Penang as well as Malaysia.

In 2006, Dell was ranked by Fortune among the world’s 25 largest companies, and was in the top 10 in the most admired companies listing.


Nikko Penang Closed, 950 Lose Jobs
By: Zulkifli Musa
Jul 1st, 2008

950 employees of Nikko Electronics Berhad today lost their jobs after the Japanese company decided to close down its factory in Prai, Penang today.

Workers turning up at the factory today were met with a surprise after receiving termination letter instead instead of resuming duty. Majority of them are production workers, including technician and operators. More than 70 of them are foreign workers.

No compensation plan has been disclosed for the retrenched staff, if any, and this leaves the workers pondering about their wages and benefits.

Nikko Electronics is a manufacturing company which produces wireless, radio controlled toys. The Malaysia registered entity is listed in the main board of Bursa Malaysia. Besides Prai, Penang, Nikko has a second factory based in Parit Buntar, Perak.

Apart from Malaysia, the company also has operation in United States, China Japan, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, United Kingdom, Denmark and other countries, mainly in Europe. 50% of the company’s products is made in its main factory in China, employing about 1,500 employees.

Nikko has been losing money for 3 consecutive years, and increasing cost of operation as well as a slump in demand forced the company to close shop.

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