KQ’s technical staff down tools over pay

Wednesday November 29 2017

A Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta

A Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on October 13, 2017. A section of KQ technical staff began a second go-slow in less than a year to demand better salaries. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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A new labour crisis has hit national carrier Kenya Airways after a section of its technical staff began a second go-slow in less than a year to demand better salaries.

The 140 workers, including engineers, want their basic pay increased to match that of their Middle East counterparts but the airline’s management termed the action, which started on Tuesday, illegal.

About 15 per cent of the technical department’s 600 employees in different levels are on strike.

OPERATIONS

A source at the airline’s hangar at Embakasi said they would not resume duty until their pay was reviewed.

The workers are in charge of aircraft maintenance, take-off and landing approvals, and refuelling.

The airline has been forced to recall staff on its continuous training programmes to ensure operations continue.

The workers complained of harassment by Kenya Airports Authority officials who tried to evict them from their work stations on Tuesday.

“We are being remunerated below international standards and the technical team is the lowest paid. That pay discrepancy has continued to affect our morale and we are demanding a pay increase,” one of the striking workers said.

In a leaked memo, Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz told the striking employees that the boycott was against the company’s efforts at financial restructuring.

SALARIES

Mr Mikosz said the recent financial support from the government should not be misconstrued to mean an increase in salaries.

The Treasury and 10 local banks earlier this month agreed to convert their combined Sh44.2 billion debt into shares as part of efforts to manage KQ’s finances.

The CEO, in an internal communication, stated that the company would not review its pay structure.

“I’m absolutely certain that this financial support was given to us not to increase salary and benefits but to return to profit, grow our network, start the so necessary investments and restore the Pride of Africa,” he said in the memo.

The workers first went on strike last December but ended their boycott when the then chief executive Mbuvi Ngunze promised to review their pa


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