KQ contract workers to wait two weeks for pay demand response

Kenya Airways (KQ) contract staff who have been on a go-slow since Friday will have to wait two more weeks to get a response on their demands for improved pay and work conditions.

The employees resumed work Tuesday evening pending the conclusion of negotiations with their employer.

The workers, hired through KQ contractor Career Directions, (CDL) had downed their tools demanding pay and benefits similar to those enjoyed by staff who are directly employed by the airline.

“The agreement is that they give us and KQ a period of time to look at their demands. We will go back to them in two weeks to tell them what we’re able to do,” said Career Directions managing director Lucy Mmari in a telephone interview.

The national carrier has through Career Directions hired over 500 employees who serve as both ground and cabin crew. Reports indicate that as many as 230 of these employees had participated in the industrial action, frustrating operations of the carrier.

During the weekend the airline suffered cancelled and delayed flights. There were reports that KQ brought in cabin crew from Ghana and Thailand to cover the shortfall.  Ms Mmari however said that these were employees who had been en-route to Nairobi.

CDL has a presence in eight countries. The decision by the employees to go back to work is a reprieve for KQ which has suffered labour crisis in recent months.

On Monday the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) deferred a strike. State House intervened in the crisis promising to use the Treasury’s shareholding of KQ to overhaul top management.  The government has 28.9 per cent stake in the carrier.

Former Safaricom chief executive and KQ board member, Mr Michael Joseph, is set to take over as the airline’s chairman at the end of the month from Dennis Awori. A board meeting slated for October 26 is expected to ratify his appointment.