Nairobi News


Tougher times ahead for Kenyan journalists as employers announce cutbacks

The financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has left many people without a job overnight, journalists included, as media houses explore ways of surviving the turbulence.

Companies across sectors have announced pay cuts, with others asking employees to take unpaid leave during the crisis.

For Kenyan media companies, the business has dropped as advertisers face a dilemma of how to keep their staff employed, pay bills, and still be in business when this all ends.

In an internal memo released by Royal Media Services (RMS) management last week, MD Wachira Waruru announced a general salary reduction for all its staff as a result of negative effects of Covid-19 outbreak in Kenya.

Mr Waruru said all workers would be subjected to a compulsory pay cut of between 20 percent and 30 percent.

“The unprecedented outbreak of the coronavirus in the world and Kenya, in particular, has had serious repercussions on businesses, including ours. This reality necessitates that we take difficult but necessary measures to see us through this period, one of which is to scale down our operations until the situation normalizes,” he said ina memo to staff.

And on Thursday, Radio Africa Group took the same approach and announced general pay cuts for its employees to cushion itself against the adverse effects of the pandemic.

The media house, which runs a number of radio stations including Class 105 and The Star newspaper, announced a 30 percent pay cut for all employees earning a gross salary of more than Sh100,000 and 20 percent for salaries below Sh100,000 effective April 1.

“The pay cut we are all taking should be temporary and should be reversed once the economy returns to normalcy and our revenues return to pre-pandemic levels. This is an interim measure which will be reviewed periodically based on revenue and cash flow generated and the state of the business going forward,” the company’s CEO Patrick Quarcoo.

Earlier, Standard Group had issued a notice to lay off 170 employees.

In a notice to staff, Chief Executive Orlando Lyomu attributed the imminent job losses on the need to realign organisational structure, automation, as well as a shift in consumption trends of media material that has had a negative impact on the company’s ability to attract revenue.

Mr Lyomu said that the company would outsource non-core services as a means to cut on costs at the listed company.

Some experts have predicted that it could take up to a year and a half before the pandemic is contained and the world returns into some form of normalcy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, declared Covid-¬19 a global pandemic.

Kenya confirmed its first positive case of the disease on March 12 and the government has incrementally announced measures to prevent the spread, which included the closing of learning institutions and banning gatherings.

Later, as infection cases increased, 110 as of April 2, the response was upgraded to require companies to have employees work from home and a daily curfew between 7pm and 5am.