Mediamax executives have been sent back to the drawing board after its journalists secured an injunction barring the media house from effecting a 50% pay cut for its high earners the stable had deemed necessary due to the shocks of the Coronavirus on its business.
On April 18, Mediamax CEO Ken Ngaruiya had in a letter warned the employees that the company would be forced to cut down salaries in order to stay afloat, a move that attracted the ire of several journalists who vowed not to consent to the arrangement.
To that effect, 164 journalists among them K24 Presenter Betty Kyalo and Milele FM Radio presenter Felix Odiwour alias Jalang’o moved to court and successfully managed to block the attempt to slash their salaries.
Mediamax which is on the shakiest ground of the main four media entities in the country had proposed a 20% and 50% on gross monthly pay cut based on job levels that would have seen high earners like Betty Kyalo and Jalang’o take home half their regular salary.
This presents an interesting turn of events after Betty Kyalo and Prime Time Presenter Anne Kiguta miraculously avoided the axe when the company was retrenching staff last year.
Group Editorial Director Peter Opondo and People Daily Managing Editor Eric Obino are other high earners who ooze six figures but were not involved in the suit due to their leadership roles in the organisation.
In his initial circular, Mr Ngaruiya had observed that the media house’s business wing had taken a beating since the first case of Coronavirus was reported in the country on March 13.
“Our clients have been adversely affected and within a short span of time have had to make difficult decisions regarding their employees and their businesses including cancellation of their communication and advertising plans,” he said.
“We shall review the situation once normalcy resumes based on revenue, cashflow and the state of the business going forward. Due to reduced level of operations due to the COVID 19 pandemic it has become necessary to request staff whose services are not required during this period to proceed immediately on leave.” said Mr Ngaruiya.
Mediamax is among media companies that have suppressed union activities among its journalists, leaving the majority of them under the whims of management. At Standard, the Kenya Union of Journalists has successfully sought an injunction against pay cuts for its members.
Citizen TV became the first media house in the country to announce pay cuts for its journalists while Standard Group has sent some of its employees packing while slashing the salaries of others within its ranks.
Big hitters at Radio Africa Group including Maina Kageni and Churchill have already taken pay cuts as the company tightened belts.
It remains to be seen how the successful injunction secured by Mediamax employees will embolden journalists at other media houses to undertake a similar course of action in future.