Mediamax CEO Ken Ngaruiya has reportedly threatened to fire journalists who sued the firm over a compulsory 50% pay cut as the wrangles inside the media house escalate.
A message seen by Kenyans.co.ke on Friday, May 1, issued a warning to over 180 journalists who sued the company, arguing that they were not consulted before the firm came up with the stringent measure.
"Irrespective of the court order, all the 200 people who went to court, you are enemies of the company. If you sign or you don't sign the contract, washakumaki (they have already marked you).Mediamax Network acting Chief Executive Officer Ken NgaruiyaK24 Digital
"So the company insists that it is either 50% (pay cut) or you go home. So from tomorrow (Friday, May 1), the firm may decide to go ahead and fire through redundancy irrespective of the court order," the message bearing the allegations reads.
Speaking with Kenyans.co.ke on Friday, May 1, David Ondieki, the lawyer representing Mediamax journalists confirmed the threats and disclosed that he had filed for contempt after the CEO threatened his staff.
"Some people uphold impunity, including the author of the message. We have a court order and we are supposed to argue our case on Thursday, May 7. The CEO has however gone ahead to issue threats to employees forcing them to sign the contract.
"He wrote us a letter and stated that he will proceed with his directive despite the court order. When I received the letter, I called his lawyer and asked him to inform his client to respect court orders but he later revealed to me that he could not, as the CEO believed he was within his own rights. The court gave us ample time to settle the issue amicably before appearing in court, but that cannot happen if they continue disrespecting court orders," Ondieki revealed.
Despite the labour laws stipulating that an employer can ask employees to proceed on unpaid leave, if he/she is unable to meet their salaries, Ondieki argued that the clause cannot be activated for Mediamax's case as the matter is already in court.
"We filed for contempt online, but a little hitch delayed us from getting the document. On Monday, May 4, when we secure it, we shall face each other in court and if he is above the law we will surrender, but if he is in Kenya where nobody is above the law then we shall know.
"Yes, the labour laws stipulate that, but remember if the matter is in court, then you cannot proceed with such until the case is settled. The court does not support harassment," the attorney proclaimed.
In a letter dated 27th April 2020, Mediamax CEO Ken Ngaruiya directed employees from the media house to either issue their consent or offer their comments or representations on options the broadcaster can take to avert job loses in the wake of COVID-19.
This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta made an impromptu visit to the media house on Sunday, April 26, which has been rocked by internal wrangles over proposed pay cuts of up to 50% due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ngaruiya reiterated that the proposed pay cuts had been made to avoid job losses of some of the employees.A section of an empty office at Mediamax on Tuesday, April 21.
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