Information Minister Samuel Poghisio termed the strike was illegal and said the positions of those who failed to show up at Broadcasting House at the designated time, would be advertised on Monday.
“Those who will not have gone back to work would be deemed to have absconded duty,” Poghisio said at a press conference boycotted by KBC staff at his Teleposta Towers office.
“I am directing the management and the board of KBC to proceed and advertise those vacancies by Monday next week,” the minister said.
Soon after the minister’s announcement, strike organizer Vincent Lempaa vowed that the industrial action would continue.
“What the minister is saying is a total contradiction of what his assistant told Parliament. The strike will continue,” Lempaa told Capital News on telephone.
Another employee of KBC who requested to remain anonymous said: “We will not be intimidated by the minister. Let him know that the strike has just started. We are not going to be threatened, why can’t the minister come and address us here.”
The minister however, said he would only engage the workers in dialogue once they resumed work, since they did not follow proper procedure in calling the strike.
“We allowed them to join the Communications Union to represent them in channelling their grievances but they did not follow the right channel, as such the strike is illegal,” he said.
Poghisio directed restructuring of the State Corporation to be undertaken to trim the bloated workforce of 1,200 staff. 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.
KBC staff has been on strike since Wednesday when they vowed to remain out of their work stations to protest failure by the government to implement their 500 percent pay increase deal.
But Poghisio insists that all their grievances had been addressed and were being implemented in phases.
He said the workers were given a 21 percent pay increase on February 10, 2012.
Of these, nine percent was back-dated to July 2011 and has already been paid, the minister said, dismissing the worker’s strike as “totally unprocedural.”
“That is why I am saying they did not have a basis to strike. The remaining 12 percent will be paid beginning July this year when the new financial year commences. This was an agreement which incorporated the staff. They are fully aware,” he added.
The minister told reporters the government was “doing its best to save KBC.”
“And some of the interventions we are taking is calling on the Public Service Commission to step in and weed out workers with bogus qualifications. We have already called for their intervention,” he said.
He said the corporation has already terminated contracts of staff who are not employed on permanent basis because they participated in the strike.
“They will have to re-apply, their contracts have been cancelled automatically,” the minister said.
Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said “some employees at KBC had been cheating the government because they are not qualified in their work and they keep on hiring third parties to come and work for them. These are the kinds of arrangements we want to get rid of because they are illegal.”
News operations at the State broadcaster have remained crippled for the past three days after the employees boycotted work.
A football match between Harambee Stars and Togo was also not screened live on Wednesday due to the strike action.
The workers have instead camped outside Broadcasting House but held a protest to Parliament on Wednesday where they presented a petition to lawmakers.