KQ pilots set to earn pay based on output

A Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. file photo | nmg
A Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. file photo | nmg 

Kenya Airways’ #ticker:KQ pilots will from next year switch to a productivity-based pay system, which is expected to replace the current annual wage increments the airline’s management has been opposed to.

The pilots, through the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa), have also signed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will see members’ terms go unchanged until April 2018 when the new regime takes effect.

KQ pilots, who have gone on several industrial strikes over the past two years, have often been accused of not putting in the hours to match their pay and annual increments, a charge they have denied.

Paul Gichinga, Kalpa’s secretary-general, now says his members have agreed to switch to a new pay system beginning next year “in line with what is happening in the industry.”

“We have agreed in principle that pilots’ wages be based on productivity, meaning the more hours you work, the more allowances you get over and above your salary,” he said.

“The specifics of this system will be contained in the April 2018 to March 2020 CBA, which we will start discussing soon. Until this discussion is finalised, we have agreed that our salaries will remain as they are.”

KQ’s wage bill stood at Sh15.7 billion as of March 2016, having dropped by eight per cent from the previous year’s Sh16.96 billion on cost-cutting measures, a trend KLM would like maintained in exchange for their monetary support.

The national carrier closed the year to March 2017 with lower staff expenses after exiting 288 employees through retrenchment and natural attrition, leaving the head count at 3,582.

Two years ago, KQ entered into performance contracts with its cabin crew, but the pilots have remained hostile to a similar arrangement.

KQ’s burgeoning wage bill has seen KLM, which owns 26.7 per cent of the airline, ask management to freeze pay across the company before the Dutch carrier can inject fresh capital into the ailing business as part of the ongoing restructuring.

KLM has demanded that staff costs remain at “current levels adjusted for inflation with any other increases subject to commensurate productivity improvements.”

The decision to freeze salary increments in contained in a four-year (April 2014 to March 2018) CBA, which Kalpa signed with KQ early this month giving pilots improved benefits including enhanced medical covers.

This CBA, which has been the source of a bitter disagreement between the two parties, will see maternity cover for pilots jump from Sh40,000 to Sh200,000 while inpatient cover will increase to Sh4 million from the current Sh2.7 million.

Outpatient cover, which was previously capped at a non-transferable amount of Sh40,000 for a maximum of six individuals, has now been consolidated at Sh200,000 per family.