Kenya aviation workers threaten strike over merger plan, hefty perks for managers

Monday March 4 2019

Kenya Aviation Workers Union

Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) secretary-general Moses Ndiema addresses the media on January 29, 2019. Kawu wants KQ and KAA managers and directors to be shown the door. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

JAMES ANYANZWA
By JAMES ANYANZWA
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Kenya’s aviation workers are calling for an overhaul of the Kenya Airways and Kenya Airports Authority’s boards and management over the proposed merger and alleged irregularities in the hiring of staff.

The workers’ union has questioned the proposed merger of the loss-making carrier and the KAA, which will see KQ take over the operations of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

In a statement released on March 4, the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) said that “it is totally wrong, and even criminal, to imagine KQ taking over JKIA.”

“Kenya will lose billions of shillings in revenue, not to mention massive job losses that will ruin livelihoods,” said KAWU secretary-general Moses Ndiema.

Kawu is demanding the removal from office of KAA chief executive Johnny Andersen and chairman of the board Isaac Awuondo and their KQ counterparts.

The union said its members will go on strike starting March 6 and paralyse all services in the country’s aviation sector if their demands are not immediately met.

The union’s members include cabin crew, security, air traffic controllers, and aircraft maintenance service providers.

The strike would also affect customer service, fire and rescue, ground flight services, engineering, finance, transport, equipment, loading and cabin grooming services.

“We advise all airport users and airline customers to consider alternative travel arrangements from Wednesday March 6 2019,” said Mr Ndiema.

The Union has questioned how the national carrier’s chief executive Sebastian Mikosz, board chairman Michael Joseph and a team of managers and consultants were allegedly paid a whopping Ksh1.3 billion ($13 million) in 18 months.

They want the KQ and KAA managers and directors to be shown the door, saying: “It is only then that workers in this industry will have the confidence that the issues affecting them will be addressed.”

Kenya Airways is owned 46.53 per cent by the Government of Kenya and 35.69 per cent by a group of 11 banks, which agreed to convert their combined Ksh23 billion ($230 million) debt into equity under a financial restructuring plan completed in 2017.

Dutch airline KLM owns 13 per cent stake.

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