Kenya risks media blackout after national broadcaster workers down tools

The workers are demanding a 13.5 per cent salary increment from July 2017 following the June 14 strike notice.

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This is after workers of the national broadcaster, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) downed their tools and boycotted work after their 21 day ultimatum elapsed.

The staff allied to the Communication Workers Union (COWU) began their strike on Wednesday to protest management’s failure to sign and implement their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

COWU General-Secretary Benson Okwaro had issued a 21-day strike notice on June 14.

Okwaro said the proposed increment was discussed by the East Africa Community, Labour and Social Protection ministry after COWU threatened to call a strike.

But management at the media house said they are awaiting formal communication from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Managing Director Waithaka Waihenya, in a statement, said the delay in inking the CBA was occasioned by ongoing deliberations with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

“The SRC has requested the corporation to wait for the commission’s final advice before the end of the week. KBC is a state agency and therefore bound by all the laws and rules governing state bodies.”

The workers held demos outside the State Corporation’s offices on Harry Thuku Road in Nairobi bringing business to a standstill at the premises.

KBC once the most popular media house across the country has slowly over the years lagged behind due to fierce competition from private media houses and also neglect by government in terms of funding.

Despite this it is still enjoyed especially in rural Kenya, KBC TV audience share across the country is 4.2 % compared to Citizen TV which leads with 33.7% while its Radio station, Radio Taifa has a reach of 2.5% according  Geopoll  Media Measurement Service  Quarter 1 2017, report.

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