Two weeks after the Standard Group unveiled its COVID-19 survival strategy that entailed pay cuts and wage deferrals for different sets of staff, journalists at the Mombasa Road-based media house are fearing for their jobs after the company issued a fresh redundancy notice on Thursday.
Factor this; a retrenchment notice in March, reporting of a huge loss at the start of April, a pay cut announcement a few days later, and now more redundancies. It is a testing time to be a Standard employee.
On Thursday, Chief Executive Orlando Lyomu in the notice warned that the initial pay cut strategy that the media stable had employed might not work hence the company will move ahead to declare more redundancies if the Coronavirus impacts on the economy fail to ease.
Lyomu further said staff who will be affected by the redundancy will have their terminal dues calculated on their normal salary.
“Last month, the company issued a Notice of Intention to Declare Redundancies for reasons that were not related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging business challenges and the country’s poor economic performance, including the continued non-payment of pending bills, had already severely impacted revenues that eventually caused the company to report a loss for the year 2019,” Lyomu said in the notice.
Questions had already been raised about how long the salary reductions mooted in early April considering that the media industry was already doing badly business-wise even before the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in the country. What has followed since the first case was reported is all mainstream media stables in the country announcing pay cuts or retrenchments.
“All I can say is that it is too early to tell, considering how fast the situation is unfolding. The greater concern now is, what further steps must we take should our revenues continue to fall. So, it is prudent to brace ourselves for the worst but remain hopeful that economic recovery will come sooner rather than later,” Lyomu further said in his notice while referring to how long pay cuts will be in place.
“The cost-cutting measures we have put in place, including staff salary reductions effected this month, are aimed at helping to keep the company afloat and securing jobs during this crisis. It is a sacrifice that we are called to make, and I thank all staff for standing with the company on this,” he added.
Staff at the company had already expressed concern at how the pay cuts will affect pension contributions. Lyomu now says the employer contribution will be calculated based on normal salary while the employee contribution will be based on the reduced salary.
“I know the decisions that the company has had to make are difficult for all of us individually and collectively. But they are necessary to secure the future of the organization,” he said.
Poor Performing Business
As mentioned earlier, in March before the outbreak of Coronavirus in Kenya, Standard announced that it would be parting ways with 170 journalists, a signal that problems existed before the virus before it came and exercabated matters.
That was followed by an announcement on April 4 that the company had made a Ksh484 million loss for the financial year 2019.
In the same vein but now with the added baggage of Coronavirus, the company announced pay cuts that ranged between 20-30% for different levels of staff while directors had to contend with pay deferrals.
The pay cuts have not worked and more job losses are coming in hot.