INJUNCTION

Court stops KQ from retrenching pilots

Redundancy process was set to kick-off this week

In Summary

•The judge also restrained KQ from bypassing the Association and directly engaging the pilots regarding any of the issues contained in its redundancy notice of August 7,2020.

•The national carrier is targeting to lay-off at least 1,500 workers mainly pilots and cabin crew.

Kenya Airways KQ Embraer E190 5Y-KYT
Kenya Airways KQ Embraer E190 5Y-KYT

 Employment and Labour Relations court has temporarily stopped Kenya Airways company from laying off its pilots in anything related to redundancy.

In a ruling delivered on Wednesday by Justice Onesmus Makau, he found that Kenya Airline Pilots Association had satisfied the court that their case was not frivolous because of the impugned redundancy pending trial.

“Pending hearing and determination of the suit, an injunction is issued restraining the respondent from effecting or implanting in any manner, anything incidental to or related to the redundancy notice dated August 7, 2020 that it issued to the claimant members”, the judge said.

The judge also restrained KQ from bypassing the Association and directly engaging the pilots regarding any of the issues contained in its redundancy notice of August 7,2020.

In court documents, Kenya Airline Pilots Association(KALPA) had moved to court seeking orders to stop KQ from effecting or implementing the redundancy notice issued to the pilots pending the hearing of the suit.

KALPA, through an affidavit by Captain Dzochera Warrakah, said that she has a collective bargaining agreement(CBA) with KQ  and that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the two signed an agreement from March to July this year which led to salary deferments and the grievant were ready to take salary cut of 81 per cent.

The association further said that despite the measures, KQ wrote a letter dated August 3, 2020 indicating the planned retrenchment.

However, KQ, through head of employee relations Grace Wamiti said she has more than 4000 employees.

She stated that due to the increased competition, she has recorded significant losses in Revenue since 2017.

Wamiti argued that KQ has only been able to survive through a restructuring loan from the government and the position has worsened by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic ,which brought the operations to a halt since March.

“We invited the claimant to consultation meetings on August 13 and 18 and set out the timelines for intended redundancy but they refused to participate in the consultations”, KQ argued.

Early in August, Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka in a letter to Kenyan Pilots Association said the company had received the nod from its board to carry out layoffs after it reviewed its operations in May.

“We write to you to inform you that following a thorough review, the Kenya Airways Board has approved the decision to carry out redundancy actions across the company network. This, therefore, is a formal notification that we will be commencing redundancy process across the business,” said Kilavuka.

Redundancy at the national carrier were set to commence this week, where KQ is targeting to lay-off at least 1,500 workers.

Pilots have however on several occasions argued that laying off pilots would not solve KQ troubles, noting that the airlines' main woes are in expensive aircraft leases that are bleeding the company.

They have also blamed poor management and operational decisions for the national carriers' troubles.