KAA appeal spares Kenya aviation crisis

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) Managing Director Alex Gitari. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya was on Tuesday spared an aviation crisis after the Kenya Airports Authority appealed a decision by a labour court allowing workers to go on strike.

Tuesday, a majority of members of the Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) delayed the call to down their tools to protest reduced pay increases dealing a major blow to the union’s demand for better salaries from Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

A source familiar with the details at KAA said unionisable Kawu members did not see the need to take part in the industrial action because the pay raise demanded by the union cannot be met by their employer at the moment.

The union wanted to be awarded a basic salary increment of 13 percent for the duration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (2016-2019) in addition to annual raise.

KAA board has proposed to increase unionisable workers’ salaries by four percent yearly (being one percent review for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019). They have also proposed to give Kawu workers a house allowance arrears for 2016 and 2017 from staff in grade S2, S3 and S4 aimed at preserving money at the cash-strapped authority.

“Unionisable Kawu members did not take part in the strike because they feel duped by the union officials. The salary raise as demanded by the union is also unrealistic from KAA at the moment,” said the source at KAA on Tuesday.

The strike was called by Kawu after Lady Justice Monica Mbaru had given the authority 10 days to conclude negotiations on reduced pay increases with airport workers or they proceed on strike.

The judge issued the orders on August 5 directing KAA to conclude talks over pay with Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) and serve the Labour Minister Simon Chelugui and the court.

She said in her orders that should KAA refuse to comply with the new court directive then Kawu will be free to start an industrial action that will exclude 55 union officials spread across KAA offices countrywide.

KAA had initially sought orders from the court to stop the strike saying that the planned industrial action is illegal.

The developments come barely a few months after KAA managing director Alex Gitari said a decision by the Treasury to mop up Sh12.5 billion surplus cash from its coffers in 2019 left it broke and unable to settle supplier debt.

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