Journalists cover a function.

KUJ moves to sue leading media houses to push for 10% pay rise for its members

The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) plans to take Nation Media Group and Standard Group to court after talks between the union and the two leading media houses over pay increase for unionisable journalists collapsed.

KUJ top officials and representatives from the media houses met today at the Ministry of Labour in a last ditch effort to harmer out a deal but the negotiations ended in a stalemate after two sides maintained their hardline stance. KUJ is seeking a 10 percent pay increase for its members under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) while the media houses are offering only 6 percent.

The meeting was chaired by James Ndiho from the Ministry of Labour as the conciliator. It was attended by KUJ chairman Juma Kwayera and Secretary General Eric Odour. Nation Media was represented by its legal officer Sekou Owino and HR officer in charge of editorial, Jane Muiruri while Peter Ngare represented journalists.

Standard Media was represented by Chris Kariuki (legal) Winnie Rono (HR) and Andy Kagwa for journalists. The Standard HR department has been in a crisis lately after it was hit by resignations of HR officers, starting with Marsha Muchuri, who left the case to a lady known as Margaret, who also resigned in a huff, forcing Winnie Rono to step in.

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KUJ was in August forced to write to the Ministry of Labour after the media houses became uncooperative in the negotiations. Labour Cabinet Secretary Ms Phillis Kandie then declared a dispute between KUJ and Nation Media Group and Standard Group Limited “with whom it has been negotiating a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) over the past four months for the period between April 2016 and March 2018.”

KUJ Secretary General Eric Oduor says the Ministry of Labour will issue the union with a certificate of disagreement, which will form the basis of filing a case against the two media houses.

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It has been a long wait for hundreds of union members as the pay rise should have been implemented in April this year for the period to March 2018. “This should be an easy case to win,” Mr Oduor said. “If we are awarded the pay will be backdated to April. We are consulting our lawyer now. We should file the case as early as Monday next week.”

The 6% media houses are offering KUJ is way below the 12% they had mutually agreed. Initially, KUJ had demanded 25% pay rise but the figure was reviewed downwards to 12% after negotiations and further to 10%.  Non-union members have already had their salaries increased by between 4.3% and 10% depending on performance.

Media houses have been facing financial difficulties over the past two years, marked with revenue declines due to a fall in advertising and increased competition.




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