Things have fallen apart in major media houses in Kenya. They seem to have taken the direction of the political wave in the nation that, it is no longer how good one is at doing something but loyalty to the bosses. Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya has dealt a major blow in most businesses and companies which have as a result been forced to lay down some staff or cut off their pay to cope with the new normal. Sources have confirmed that some staff from the giant media houses did not accept the idea of getting only 50% of what they used to earn. This prompted some to seek court orders to stop the salary cut from implementation. Fortunately, the court ruled to their favor.
It is the Media Max who were first hit but the staff chaos. To the surprise of many, the giant media house terminated the contracts of 100 (hundred) of their staff and communicated to them via a phone message that was sent at night informing the culprits that their services were no longer needed. As it is the case with workers unions, the Kenya Union of Journalist has condemned the decision to sack the employees by sending a night phone message. They argue that the decision breaches the law.
The union’s Secretary General (Eric Oduor) says that the company was very unfair to take the advantage of the global pandemic to sack their staff. According to law, an employer is allowed to terminate employees’ contract of service on accounts of redundancy. This should be effected after notifying the employees as well as the labor office in writing. The employer should also pay in cash all leave days due and a pay of 15 days for each year the persons have been contracted.
Multiple sources have indicated that the Sunday night message sent by the Media Max Human Resource Manager indicated that the notification sent to the employees on 20th May 2020 had already expired. This prompted the sacking. It has been said by our sources that the letter invited the staff to a hotel in Kileleshwa to pick their letters but they failed. Further, the letter is said to have been informing the staff about the tough times brought by the Covid-19 pandemic and the tough measures to be taken to enable the media house sail through these difficult moments.
Some of the big names axed by the Media Max include Felix Odiwuor (Jalang’o) of Milele Fm and Betty Kyalo of K24 which fired almost the entire editorial team. Hours after the Media Max sacking, Royal Media Services also fired a number of staff including Syombua Osiany, John Maloba (Papa Nasty), Himenigilder Mugeni who were all Radio Citizen Presenters and Nancy Wanjiku (Shix Kapyenga) of Hot 96. Another affected station affected is Ramogi FM presenters namely Betty Oketch, Josphine Sirega Nya Nding’o Opanga, Chris Pilot as well as Otieno Lactar. The axing is said to fall on several other departments in the media houses in due course.