Mediamax Network Limited employees are now seeking President Uhuru Kenyatta’s intervention over unpaid salaries and looming mass lay-off.
The frustrated employees, who have spent the past few months in the courts fighting pay cuts say the President, whose family is associated with the company, needs to come to their aid.
In a letter addressed to the Head of State, the employees said that efforts to solve the pay dispute with the Acting Chief Executive Officer Ken Ngaruiya had proved futile.
They claim that the CEO is arrogant and often uses blackmail and intimidations to silence anyone who dares to challenge his decisions.
Mediamax, the holding company for K24 and Kameme TV stations, People Daily, Milele FM and several vernacular radio stations, had notified the employees of up to 50 per cent pay cuts citing the adverse effects of Covid-19 on company business.
The employees challenged the decision in the Employment and Labour Relations Court but before the matter could be determined the CEO issued a redundancy notice.
But in a consolidated ruling delivered last Wednesday Justice Bryam Ongaya ordered the company to immediately disburse accrued full April and May salaries.
The judge further ruled that while effecting the intended redundancies the employer must observe existing contracts.
“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.”
But the aggrieved members of staff say Ngaruiya intends to disobey the court orders and revenge against the staffers who moved to court by sending them home without a penny.
“There are now disturbing reports that he has vowed not to honour the court ruling and will instead exact revenge on the affected staff by tossing them into the streets without a penny through a redundancy. We find it disrespectful that he is invoking your name and that of your family to ignore court orders and turn DSM into a doghouse, ” the letter reads.
“We have been forced to appeal to you to come to the rescue of the innocent workers who have toiled for years to build the MNL brands to command recognition and respect in the media industry. Sir, please save us from the Ngaruiya knee-lock. We can’t breathe! Ngaruiya must not be let to wallow in his delusional air of arrogance and impunity to the detriment of hard-working and diligent workers.”
The workers now claim that the frustrations at the company saw K24TV’s Molo correspondent George Kori take his own life.
The dispute, the staffers claim, largely contributed to the recent resignation of anchor Betty Kyallo, Head of TV and Digital Peter Opondo and Head of Commercial Caroline Mwangi.
“Impunity and arrogance that saw one of our own, a news correspondent from Molo, take his own life. Impunity that saw star talent and the host of K24’s main anchor show Weekend With Betty, resign in a huff due to continued disrespect and ill-treatment, ” the letter reads.
“Indeed, a team or a company is only as good as its leader and yours, Sir, is being led to the gallows to die a permanent death. He must be called to order and reminded that the country is ruled by the rule of law and none of us, including him, is above the law. ”
The employees demand that the Ngaruiya pays the full April and May salaries, respect existing contracts when effecting redundancies and uphold workers’ rights, integrity and welfare.
The company recently shelved plans to outsource news content from KTN News after criticism.