The Employment and Labour Relations Court has handed Mediamax Network Limited employees reprieve in pay cuts and impending mass lay off stalemate with the employer.
In a ruling delivered on Wednesday via Zoom, the court ruled that in effecting expected redundancies, the holding company for K24 and Kameme TV stations, People Daily, Milele FM and several vernacular radio stations, must observe existing contracts.
Further, the employer was directed to immediately disburse accrued full April and May salaries.
“With no orders on costs and with further orders that the contract of service between parties is preserved with no pay cuts but affected staff may go on redundancy per law and prevailing contracts, ” the judge said.
“The contract is in place without pay cuts and the law says when they should be paid so the law is in place.”
36 staffers drawn from different departments had moved to court on behalf of over 160 other employees to challenge a move by the management to effect up to 50 per cent pay cuts.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ken Ngaruiya had cited negative effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on company operations as reason for the 20-50 per cent monthly salary deductions.
The court temporarily stopped the pay cuts and ordered the employer not to show any form of discrimination against the petitioners.
While issuing the orders, the court, however, encouraged the parties to enter into a mutual agreement about the respective contracts in view of any adverse effects of COVID-19 on business.
But the employer later issued a notice of redundancy to keep the company afloat amid dwindling fortunes.
In a letter to the county labour office last month, Ngaruiya said that the company will abolish some positions as part of its cost optimization measures in the wake of the new business realities.
“The services of some of its employees will be rendered superfluous thereby necessitating the termination of their employment on account of redundancy. In accordance with the provisions of Section .10 of the Employment Act. No. II of 2007, Mediamax Network Limited hereby gives one (1) month’s notice of the intended redundancies,” said Ngaruiya.
Amid the growing salary tussle and imminent mass sacking K24 TV anchor Betty Kyallo, Head of TV and Digital Peter Opondo and Head of Commercial Caroline Mwangi resigned.
In September 2019, Mediamax fired at least 160 employees, including top K24 and People Daily editors in another cost-cutting move.
Among those who were sent packing include Job Mwaura, Caleb Ratemo and Franklin Wambugu. Others included; Mwanaisha Chidzuga, Torome Tirike, Tony Timase, Fred Njiri, Anders Ihaji, Juma Bhalo, Ali Mtenzi, Boniface Mutakha.