After a short break of about two weeks, Nation Media Group has resumed its layoff exercise targeted at unionisable journalists. On Monday this week, the company issued redundancy letters to two journalists, stoking anxiety among the 30 journalists who are members of the Kenya Union of Journalists.
This left six journalists to go as the company had indicated it planned to lay off eight unionisable journalists in a letter to the Kenya Union of Journalists. Those given letters were sports writer Isaac Swilah and Juliet Nabwire, a sub editor on The East African weekly newspaper.
This went against NMG CEO Joe Muganda’s recent announcement to staff that the retrenchment had ended and no one would be sacked. It is not clear if the company changed its mind on sacking all the eight initially earmarked journalists or has taken a strategic piecemeal approach to tone down backlash.
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The sacking of KUJ members was put on hold after union officials moved to court to stop the process until a fair compensation formula is reached to include the contested collective bargaining agreement (CBA) of 50% for the last two years.
Nation Media Group made its submission last week, arguing that it had only showed intention but had sacked none of the unionisable journalists. It said individual contracts will be used to calculate the dues in the absence of a CBA. Effectively, the KUJ journalists who will be unlucky to fall victim of the axe will lose out on the fat compensation as they will be paid like the rest of those who were sacked mid-month.