The Kenya Union of Journalists has condemned the firing of K24 employees en masse and threatened to move to court.
In a statement on Monday, KUJ said Mediamax CEO Ken Ngaruiya did not follow the legal process as outlined in the Constitution .
Consequently, the union has threatened to sue Mediamax CEO Ken Ngaruiya, if he doesn’t withhold the firing of the K24 journalists, a TV station under Mediamax Group.
Mediamax also owns Kameme FM and the People Daily newspaper.
The affected journalists include news anchors Shiksha Arora, Eric Njoka, Mercy Milanoi, Karimi Karen and Sports presenters Tony Kwalanda, Wanjiku Mwenda and Caren Kibbet. Reporter Dennis Matara was also let go.
The termination of employment of staff shocked Kenyans, with many angry at the manner in which it was done: They were fired through a text message.
KUJ said Mediamax took advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to subject employees to unfair treatment.
Such include “unilateral introduction of pay cuts, withholding salaries and unfair termination of contracts disguised as redundancy.”
“KUJ has learnt with regret ill treatment Mediamax Acting Chief Executive Officer Ken Ngaruiya has decided to subject company employees to the ongoing unfair termination of contracts disguised as redundancies,” the statement by KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor reads in part.
Section 40 of the employment act allows employers to terminate contract on account of redundancy.
However, due process must be followed to ensure employees are treated in a just manner.
“It has been brought to our attention that in an unprecedented move, Mr Ngaruiya decided to preside over a process where affected employees were sacked through SMS. They were also asked to collect their letters that terminate their contracts at a hotel in Nairobi,” Oduor said.
According to KUJ, the action was in contravention with the law and unfair best practices that Labour and Employment Court has ruled against in the past.
“Failure to adhere to this [due process], the company should prepare for the mother of all legal battles. The Human Resource Director and Mr Ngaruiya will be personally held responsible for violation of a court order and subjecting employees to slavery,” Oduor added.