, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) on Thursday became the latest public institution to face a strike threat over poor remuneration and working conditions.
In a petition signed by 252 workers addressed to Parliament, the Information and Communication Ministry, KBC’s Managing Director and the Prime Minister’s Office, the KBC staff said they want the government to give them a 500 percent pay rise.
A spokesman Lempaa Suyionka who reports from the courts, told Capital News that KBC workers were earning peanuts with managers earning a salary of about Sh26,000 per month.
“If the government does not heed our demands, the high cost of living will actually force us to go on strike because we cannot afford basic needs with those salaries,” he warned.
“We are being very realistic. We are asking for 500-700 percent increment, most mangers at KBC get Sh25,000… when you multiply that by five, a manager will start getting about Sh125,000,” he asserted.
Apart from the poor remuneration, Lempaa cited bad working conditions complaining that most of the KBC offices were made of wood.
“It is very sad that one seat in the new Parliament costs Sh220,000 while KBC is still built using wood (for construction). The state broadcaster has since been neglected such that you would think they are prison houses,” he complained.
Lempaa further explained that KBC also relied on casual labourers referred to as ‘artists’ who end up working for many years without contracts but are paid meagre salaries that are not exempted from taxations yet they have no PIN numbers supplied by the Kenya Revenue Authority.
He explained, “We have departments that are run by casual labourers; artists who are paid very poorly and who are working without permanent terms for many years.”
The workers also want improved medical schemes, transport allowances and housing allowances.
Lempaa also raised concerns over promotions and hiring of new employees alleging that they are characterised by nepotism with professionals being locked out of the positions and remunerations they deserve at the expense of ‘those who know somebody’.
He also said the workers were disgruntled that they have been banned from joining unions like other government workers terming the directive as unconstitutional.
“KBC has deliberately denied its workers the right to participate in the trade union movement contravening the constitution that provides for workers to join trade unions,” the petition indicated.
The journalist wondered why there were huge disparities among State bodies with some public workers earning way to high compared to them.
Lempaa said if he is sacked because of speaking out, he will take a legal action against the government.
” We are paid like tea girls, nepotism and tribalism reign high at KBC. It depends on who is related to who… You won’t believe it but in the administration department, they almost speak their mother tongue in the office. It is like they come from one village. There’s a lot of imbalance in salaries and job groups. Nobody is promoted on merit,” another staffer who refused to be named revealed to Capital News.