The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) has penned a letter to three media houses in Kenya after receiving distress calls from journalists.
The statement dated Sunday, December 3, indicated that some journalists from the Standard Group, Mediamax and Radio Africa Group had gone for 10 months without pay.
KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor noted that the salary crisis had become the biggest threat to media freedom in Kenya.
"We have received distress calls from three media houses mainly, The Standard Group PLC, Mediamax and Radio Africa Group that have not paid their staff and correspondents for about 10 months in the wake of difficult economic times and high cost of living in the country," read the statement in part.
"Let me remind media owners that they are operating in a space where public trust is paramount and, therefore, they cannot hold other people to account if their own hands are not clean."
He further accused media owners of living large at the expense of their workers, some of whom saw their children go to bed hungry or drop out of school entirely.
The union is therefore demanding that corporate governance be included in the checklist before any company is allowed to do business with the government and private sector.
Oduor further demanded that all media houses should be required to provide proof of payment of salaries before accessing government advertising and challenged Parliament to pass legislation to put in place regulations that set minimum pay for journalists.
"Corporate governance is becoming a new threat to media freedom in Kenya where managers are not concerned with the welfare of their employees, yet they expect to play a watchdog role for the common good of the society," he added.
The union further pointed an accusatory finger toward the state for non-payment for advertising services offered to them.
Oduor, therefore, demanded the state to settle their pending bills and to stop using advertising as a blackmail tool to cripple the media.
The demand comes a month after the union sent an ultimatum to the Standard Group to settle salary arrears for its members at the organisation.
“We cannot be championing and calling out for the rights of journalists when employers are the ones who are violating the rights of the journalists, who will respect journalists if employers do not? We will have a solidarity strike in support and solidarity with our colleagues at Standard Group," posed Oduor.
In his recent letter, he acknowledged that 'something was done' but urged the outlet to ensure it fully complies with their agreement. By Derick Okubasu, Kenyans.co.ke