The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) has faulted Mediamax Network Ltd CEO Ken Ngaruya for ordering for the firing of over 100 employees at night, through SMS’s.
In a statement, KUJ secretary general Erick Oduor said that the move was a contravention of the law and unfair best practices that Labour and Employment Court has ruled against In similar cases brought before it in the past.
“The process requires consultation and engagement with the affected employees before such decision Is made. Indeed, Mr Ngaruya has made history In labor relations as the first CEO to implement Section 40 of Employment Act and Article 41 of the Constitution through an SMS. What a shame! The illegal exercise disguised as redundancy negates the existence of the company which was incorporated as a news production and dissemination entity because it appears the so called restructuring has disbanded newsroom,” said Mr Oduor.
He says that Ngaruya has taken advantage of the Covid-19 situation to mistreat employees by slashing and withholding their salaries.
“The company has taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to subject employees to unfair labour practice which include unilateral introduction of pay cuts, withholding salaries and now unfair termination of contracts disguised us redundancy. While we condemn this illegal and unfair labour practice, which Constitution of Kenya outlawed In 2010, we demand that the company puts this exercise on hold to pave the way for consultations to comply with the law,” he added.
Mr Oduor said that the company associated with the first family should prepare for “the mother of all legal battles” if they do not reverse their decision.
“Failure to adhere to this, the company should prepare for the mother of all legal battles as Human Resource Director and Mr Ngaruya will be held personally responsible for violation of a court order and subjecting employees to slavery,” added Oduor.
The Human Resource Department had on Sunday sent a text message to the affected staff notifying them of the redundancies.
“Hi. This is Robert from HR. I am contacting you with regards to the redundancy notice issued on 21st of May 2020. The notice period has expired. Unfortunately, your position has been affected by way of redundancy.
“I would like to invite you to Emory Hotel in Kileleshwa tomorrow, Monday 22, at 8:55 a.m. to discuss what this means to your employment. When you get to the hotel kindly ask for me. We thank you for your indulgence and cooperation in this matter,” the message reads.
Some of the notable faces affected by the mass sacking include Sam Njoroge, Rose Gakuo, Fred Indimuli (K24 poached him from Citizen TV in 2018), Eric Njoka, Karen Karimi, Isabella Kituri, Nancy Onyancha, Caren Kibett, Shon Osimbo, Sara Adams, Joy Kariuki, Joab Mwaura and Tony Khwalanda.
A majority of journalists in K24 TV’s new dream team were poached from Switch TV. They are Diana Rose, Giverson Maina, Daniel Kituu, Abuller Ahmed and Nicholas Nduati.
Mediamax, the holding company for K24 and Kameme TV stations, People Daily, Milele FM and several vernacular radio stations, recently shelved plans to outsource content from KTN News and decided to build a new editorial team in a bid to enhance K24 TV’s news delivery.