KQ pilots on go slow as strike notice lapses

The union represents about 400 pilots

In Summary
  • According to Kalpa, the airline owes its members at least Sh700 million plus interest.
  • KQ boss Allan Kilavuka called for a truce, saying the pilots' strike will jeopardize the firm's restructuring plan

Kenya Airways pilots are on go slow as the legal team prepares a response to the order suspending the strike notice issued on October 19.

"The strike is on," a Kenya Pilots Association (Kalpa) representative told the Star on Wednesday.

He added that the association is waiting for its legal to team studies the court order before issuing a comprehensive statement.

Efforts to reconcile pilots and KQ's management hit a dead end after the two functions took hard positions on contested issues.

On Tuesday, they both held press conferences, with pilots insisting that KQ must meet the bare minimum of their grievances for any meaningful negotiations to take place.

Kalpa secretary general Muriithi Nyagah accused KQ's administration of frustrating negotiations for the last two years.

The union which represents about 400 pilots issued a 14-day strike notice on October 19 to protest a decision to suspend contributions to the provident fund, which they claim is a contractual agreement that KQ has with all employees.

The pilots said that KQ has unilaterally stopped both the employees’ and the employers’ contributions since 2020 and has failed to resume the retirement scheme.

According to Kalpa, the airline owes its members at least Sh700 million plus interest.

The union also claims that some of the KQ managers have taken to harass lobby officials in order to curtail the union's activities.

"They have declined to honour even recommendations of intermediates from the Ministry of Labour and even taken unilateral action to sack members of the executive council and as we speak there is an ongoing victimisation of them,’’ he added.

"We request that KQ's management obey contractual agreements, stop harassment of union officials, weed out the unqualified personnel and resolve poor governance,'' Nyaga said.

On Tuesday, KQ boss Allan Kilavuka called for a truce, saying the pilots' strike will jeopardise the firm's restructuring plan which seeks to return the airline to profitability in 2024.

He assured the staff that the airline will resume the fund in mid-2023, insisting that KQ is currently not financially stable.

He added that the management is very open to negotiations with the pilots.

Today, the airline advertised the chief pilot's position, perhaps in response to some of the pilots' claims that the current office bearer is not qualified.

Yestreday evening, KQ's board termed the planned industrial action illegal.

In a statement, the board said it has unanimously come to the opinion that none of the grievances advanced by KALPA merits an industrial strike and firmly holds that all CBAs must align with the need to restructure the Airline's operations towards profitability and efficiency.

 "The Board calls upon all KQ staff to ignore the illegal strike called by KALPA and to carry out their functions and rosters accordingly,'' KQ board chairman Michael Joseph said. 

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