Union wants KQ bosses jailed for contempt in row over pay


A Kenya Airways plane at JKIA. The Aviation Workers’ Union wants KQ bosses jailed for contempt. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ management is facing contempt charges, with the Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) accusing it of recruiting staff on short contracts and less pay against a court order.

The union claims that KQ has hired several workers outsourced from firms such as Carrier Directions Limited, Insights Management Limited and African Cargo Handling Limited against a court order issued in December last year.

“Despite being served and having knowledge of an order of this court issued on 6th December 2019, the respondent (KQ) through its officers are deliberately disobeying this court order,” Kawu says in a petition.

The union now wants the national carrier’s acting CEO Allan Kilavuka and chief human resource officer Everlyn Munyoki committed to civil jail for alleged contempt of court.

The union says that is has evidence showing that KQ has directly recruited employees who were previously outsourced from Carrier Directions at lower pay compared to that of other employees doing similar jobs at the airline.

KQ had been issued with a court order to not hire Kawu members on short-term contracts and at a lesser pay than that enjoyed by permanent employees until a court case about the 2014 collective bargaining agreement is heard and concluded.

The loss-making airline has been facing pressure from both Kawu and Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) on hiring and firing procedures. Both unions have been citing the prevailing CBAs.

Kalpa had in November opposed the recruitment of at least 20 foreign pilots for KQ’s Boeing 737 planes, describing the recruitment as illegal.

The airline, which has been losing Sh5.18 billion ($50 million) annually as a result of the pilot shortage has been operating with 435 pilots while its flight frequencies require 497 personnel.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court recently stopped KQ from laying off workers under a restructuring plan aimed at reducing costs and easing losses at the national carrier.

Judge Hellen Wasilwa ordered the suspension to the planned redundancies pending the hearing of the dispute on February 26 in which Kawu alleges that KQ is in violation of the Employment Act, the Fair Administration Act and the Constitution.