, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) on Monday advertised positions of all its striking workers who failed to return to work by Friday last week.
The advertisement appearing in the local dailies seeks to recruit 419 new staff to replace all the striking workers who downed their tools to protest the government’s failure to award them a 500 percent pay increase.
The station is seeking applicants for 18 posts of TV news reporters, 10 radio reporters, 10 radio editors as well as 12 translators and 10 news readers for both radio and its TV station.
Other vacant positions advertised are those of regional radio presenters, TV producers, video editors and more than 60 technicians for both radio and the Channel One TV among other vital positions.
To stress the urgency of the posts advertised, the corporation wants applications to be sent by Wednesday to facilitate a quick recruitment process.
The advertisement follows last week’s announcement by Information Minister Samuel Poghisio who said staff who failed to report to work by Friday will be dismissed automatically.
“I directed the management of KBC to go ahead and advertise all the vacant positions for those who will not have reported to work by Friday 2pm,” the Minister said at a briefing for reporters last Friday.
The Minister said the workers were not justified to go on strike “because we have been handling their grievances.”
He also said the workers had not followed the right procedures in calling for the strike which has paralysed its major operations, including news.
“We allowed them to join the Communication (Workers) Union to represent them in channelling their grievances but they did not follow the right channel, as such the strike is illegal,” he said.
The striking workers have however, maintained they will not be intimidated by the sacking threats and were planning to meet Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday morning.
Major operations of collecting and disseminating information at the state broadcaster were grounded to a halt since Tuesday last week when the workers went on strike.
On Sunday, the striking workers held a demonstration in the streets of Nairobi as they headed to the Prime Minister’s office but they were told to send their representatives back there on Monday.
“We want the Prime Minister to intervene in this matter because it is getting worse,” a journalist at the state owned broadcaster Vincent Lempaa who led the group said on telephone.
Broadcast operations remained paralysed at the KBC, with the TV station and Radio not airing consistent news bulletins.
Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Francis Atwoli has however, urged the striking workers to resume work and let their union resolve their grievances.
He said the strike had no backing of the union because it is illegal.
“KBC staff should get off the roads and let COTU through their trade union resolve their issues with the government through the proper channels,” Atwoli said.
“Going to the streets without having followed the proper channels to resolve the issue is not professionalism,” he added.
As the state broadcaster announced vacant positions, Poghisio said he had also directed the restructuring of the State Corporation to be undertaken to trim the bloated workforce of 1,200. Out of these, only 191 are members of the Communications Workers Union of Kenya which has also disowned the strike.
“We want to remain with the right number of staff who can effectively serve the corporation, as currently constituted, the staff is bloated. I have directed the board and management to start comprehensive restructuring,” he said.