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Angry Standard Group Employees Wrestle With Auctioneers

It took the intervention of the CEO to save the debt collectors from being lynched

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The bright Thursday morning did not betray anything at Standard Group Centre on Mombasa Road, except for the feverish haste that is the norm for most employees in media houses. Early birds were deeply immersed in their duties as the normal 8 to 5 schedule employees started streaming in.

All Standard Group Media platforms were in full gear – KTN Home and KTN News streaming their programmes while Standard newspapers sat fresh on the tables beckoning for readership, with the headline “Cost of Living Must Drop: Raila to Ruto”. But no one could be feeling the pain of this high living cost than those who work here at Standard Group, having gone for months surviving on a fraction of their pay.

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But as the morning peace started giving way to the daily grind, an unusual hush swept offices on the upper floors: auctioneers had struck! Bit by bit information spread across the building that something was a miss.

Somehow a dozen men had made their way into the Standard offices undetected with one mission: to seize some valuables as a way of pushing the management into paying  debt. It is not clear whom the auctioneers represented but given that Standard owes a number of companies cash running into millions, including its own employees, this did not surprise many.

The 12 swung into action and started carting away office chairs, starting with the newsroom which accommodates most of the staff. After about 15 minutes they had cleared the newsroom. While seats were not the most valuable items in the building, picking them away may have been calculated to disrupt operations.

Panic was spreading as employees watched the unfolding events. Something had to be done, and urgently so, to save the situation. A newsroom without seats would have meant employees working while standing, kneeling or crouching.

Swiftly employees mobilized themselves to fight back. In what looked like a movie, Standard Group employees moved to stop the auctioneers from carrying away the seats. They created a picket outside the Standard Group office to protest against the ambush by the auctioneers.

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It took the intervention of Standard Group CEO Joe Munene to save the auctioneers from being lynched. The debt collectors yielded and went into a meeting with the CEO.

The raid has raised questions within Standard, though, with some wondering how the group managed to breach the tight security to access the building. Either security was compromised or something fishy was going on. This has some staff speculating that the raid could have been stage managed by management strategically at the end of month to justify not paying salaries.

Standard Group had paid full salaries for October after many months of paying a fraction. The October pay had stirred hope among employees that, at long last, things were looking up. With this turn of events, that excitement could be short lived.

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Bill Yaura is a Correspondent for Business Today. He can be reached on email: [email protected]
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