Sunday, 3 October 2010

Fight over pay at Kenya Airways escalates

Another bitter round of bout over pay at the Kenyan national carrier, Kenya Airways, (KQ) has escalated; and it is a fight that Titus Naikuni, the CEO of the firm, may not easily win.

It appears that this latest fight may claim the career of Mr Naikuni at KQ, as well as those of other managers who are reportedlty under intense pressure.

On one side, the managers are being pressed by the shareholders, (read KLM) to save the firm from another strike; while on the other, more pressure is coming from staff who want honest implementation of pay offer agreed several months ago.

This is the issue at hand.

KQ and the Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) in April this year signed an agreement to increase employee salaries, backdated several moths back. KQ said the backdate goes back to October 2009, while AAWu said it goes back 15 months back from April 2010.

Some union members say the issue in clause 'J' (of the CBA?) is not new. KQ said this demand is unprocedural and illegal.

In full-page newspaper statement publuisehd in two Sunday newspapers in Kenya on 3 October, Naikuni accused the AAWU of dishonesty.

Now, the good will of the staff on the company and the managers has hit the lowest point yet. Junior workers are not hiding that the dissapointment with the managers, and some are already looking for jobs elsewhere.

Some staff have complained on the social media that the management has been sending emails to specific union members and staff in sales and ticketing, telling them that if they go on strike, they will be fired.

Some even suggested that managers had warned them that the firm can be closed. Of course this is impossible.

A meeting has now been set for 5 October betweeb the KQ managers and AAWU (I understand bringing on board other umbrella unions) to see if a strike can be averted.
But is appears there is really bad blood between leaders of the AAWU and KQ managers.

In August 2009, about 3,000 staff of KQ went on strike demanding better pay. The strike ended after the two parties agreed a pay plan that included an interim wage award of 10 percent in each of the first two years.

French-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM owns 26 percent of Kenya Airways, while the Kenya government has a 23 percent-stake.

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