Sunday, 10 October 2010

KQ managers browbeat staff over strike

Kenya Airways (KQ) managers are using intimidation to press its 3,000-plus staff into canceling a strike set for 13 October, even as union representatives meet to finalize details of how to go ahead with work boycott.

Members of the Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) are meeting later today (Sunday) to insist that members be told that the strike will go on unless KQ managers are ready to drop intimidation and threats and promise to implement disputed back pay.
In the meeting, union representatives will also be seeking to launch another campaign to press for the sacking/resignation of CEO Titus Naikuni.

Some are considering some more outright action - like sabotage of operations - to draw attention of the public, media and the government of alleged incompetence of Mr Naikuni as well as HR and other top managers at the besieged firm.

Meanwhile, Sunday, for the third day running, KQ placed full-page advertisement in nation's two biggest newspapers, seeking to recruit other in-flight attendants; presumably to replace the current staff who are planning on going on strike. Most of the KQ staff, understandably, are Kenyans, and now, KQ is seeking to recruit across east Africa in a clear strategy of seeking to avoid dealing with a similar strike situation in the future.

It is a desperate situation indeed. Some staff have complained that the management has been sending emails to specific union members and staff, telling them that if they go on strike, they will be fired.

At the KQ head office, some managers were last night considering contingency plans as it becomes clear that the strike will go ahead, although others were asking that the strike be stopped from going ahead - in every way possible; including court action or pay concession.

This issue at hand is pay rise and other issues arising from agreement or subsequent lack of it since KQ staff went back to work after going on strike for two days.

KQ and the 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. And that is the problem.

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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