What would be the public perception if a company owned by the Kenyatta Family, the wealthiest family in the land went ahead and effected a 50% pay cut for its employees at a time when President Uhuru Kenyatta is urging employers not to sack employees and be sensitive in cost-cutting measures?
Would the pay cuts proposed by Mediamax CEO Ken Ngaruiya be used as a stick to beat the Kenyatta Family with considering that a 50% 0r 20% cut can have adverse effects on the life of a Mediamax employee while the first family continues to rake in billions?
And would Kenyans take the president seriously if he continues to preach water and drink wine?
The answers to all these questions were answered by a series of events on Sunday when President Uhuru Kenyatta fired his G-Wagon and made an impromptu visit to DSM Place, the Mediamax Headquarters to arrest a scenario that was threatening to be damaging for the company’s image and more importantly his family’s image.
Business Today has established that President Kenyatta attended a board meeting where Ngaruiya was asked to justify a 50% pay cut while other media stables were doing 20- 30%.
At the meeting, advertising revenue vs an enormous payroll was a conversation that reigned heavy with Ngaruiya at pains to explain why the situation had boiled to a disaster that was drawing unnecessary attention.
Business Today had reported that 164 journalists had acquired an injunction barring the company from effecting the pay cuts, a move instigated by popular media personalities including K24 Presenter Betty Kyalo and Milele FM Presenter Felix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o.
President’s Impromptu Visit
Sources intimate that President Kenyatta arrived at DSM at around 6:30pm and headed straight for a board meeting.
“The CEO was asked to state how he had arrived at the conclusion that the best way to keep the company afloat was to cut salaries by half while Royalmedia Services (RMS) and Radio Africa Group worked with more reasonable numbers which is between 20-30%,” said one source.
Pursuant to Sunday evening’s deliberations, the future of Ngaruiya hangs in the balance with the board less than enthusiased by the trouble his decisions have caused the company.
The board is now expected to effect more reasonable pay cuts anytime this week. The board has also started the process of sounding out possible replacements for Ngaruiya.
Even before the board’s intervention, the journalists have been calling for Ngaruiya’s head demanding his immediate resignation.
The feeling at DSM Place is that Ngaruiya did not consult the journalists before issuing circular announcing the pay cuts.
One source intimated to Business Today that Ngaruiya underestimated the influence that popular media personalities wield both in company politics and in the court of public opinion.
On Tuesday last week, DSM Place was a shell with many of the employees staying away from work protesting the proposed pay cuts, a situation that cast more scrutiny on the executive’s decisions.
Before the journalists moved to court themselves, the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) had asked Mediamax to justify the pay cuts while saying that the pay cuts were ill informed as the journalists had not been consulted.