Court tells striking Kenya Airways pilots to go back to work

NAIROBI, Nov 8 (Reuters) – A labor court on Tuesday ordered Kenya Airways (KQNA.NR) pilots to return to work by Wednesday to end a strike that has killed thousands of passengers at one of Africa’s key aviation hubs has stranded.

Members of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), which represents around 400 pilots at the airline, went on strike on Saturday after failing to resolve a dispute over pension contributions and the settlement of deferred pay.

On Tuesday, a Labor and Labor Court judge ordered the pilots to return to duty “unconditionally” by 6 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) on Wednesday.

The court also prevented the airline’s management from taking disciplinary action against pilots involved in the industrial dispute.

The court had prevented the union from starting the strike and the airline attempted to subpoena the union officials for contempt of court after the strike began. The court will continue to negotiate the dispute, said Judge Anne Mwaure.

Kenya Airways welcomed the court’s orders and said they would comply.

The union said in a statement it had asked its members to report for work on Wednesday, as ordered by the court.

The pilots’ strike is estimated to have cost the airline more than $2 million a day so far, affected more than 10,000 passengers and resulted in the cancellation of dozens of flights.

Kenya Airways, which is nearly 50% government-owned, earlier said it plans to terminate its collective bargaining and recognition agreement with the pilots’ union, saying its current strike is unlawful and constitutes economic sabotage.

The union is calling for the resumption of regular pension payments to its members, which stopped in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the payment of pension arrears. She also wants the airline to start paying salaries that have been deferred during the health crisis.

The airline’s management says it has been working hard to fully recover from the pandemic and blames pilots for jeopardizing that push.

Financial turmoil at Kenya Airways preceded the pandemic. The airline has slipped deep into the red after borrowing heavily to buy new planes at a time when its passenger business was collapsing, largely due to frequent militant attacks in Kenya.

Reporting by Duncan Miriri and Jeff Kahinju; Edited by George Obulutsa and Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Comments are closed.