The Employment and Labour Relations court has issued orders temporarily stopping Mediamax Network Limited from forcing or coercing employees to take up to 50 per cent pay cuts.
The holding company of K24 and Kameme TV stations, People Daily, Milele FM and several vernacular radio stations had declared intention to subject its employees to 20 to 50 per cent salary cuts citing adverse effects of novel Coronavirus on its business.
The orders issued on Friday by Justice Bryam Ongaya restrict the Media House from subjecting the employees to pay cuts unless the management proves that they are unable to pay salaries.
The Court also barred the management from terminating contracts of service of the employees.
At least 36 members of staff from the Media house, a majority being K24TV anchors, reporters and technical team, had moved to court seeking orders to compel the Mediamax management to stop intended salary cuts pending hearing and determination of the petition.
The staffers including the “Weekend with Betty” host Betty Kyallo on behalf of over 164 others requested the court to stop Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ken Ngaruiya from victimizing, coercing, intimidating or dismissing or terminating contracts of any member of staff.
The Court further ordered the employer not to show any form of discrimination against the petitioners.
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.
If the parties agree to compromise, they should record consent in court on May 7, when the case is scheduled for hearing.
The court also directed that the employer may permit the affected staff to take unpaid leave for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic in cases where some have exhausted their leave days.
Mediamax becomes the second media house to be barred from effecting the deductions after Standard Media Group which had proposed up to 30 per cent pay cuts.
Mediamax issued the staff with consent letters on April 21 over the intended salary cuts.
The letters issued to each employee based on their job group details the new gross salary after the deduction.
But the scribes declined to sign the letters saying the communication lacked crucial details such as the period within which the salary cut would apply.
Last year, the company sent home over 160 employees in a bid to reduce operating costs.
Mediamax became the first company locally to deduct employees salary by half.
Other media companies, Royal Media and Radio Africa chose to slash the salaries by up to 30 per cent.
The media companies cited a drop in revenue as reason for the changes as companies had stopped or reduced their advertising budget following the unprecedented negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy.
Many businesses have been forced to close down with customers asked to stay at home as part of efforts to contain the spread of the contagious disease.
This, the companies said, had eaten into their profits, which relies heavily on advertising.