Kenya Airways (KQ) has threatened disciplinary action against striking pilots after talks to have the workers return to work hit a snag.
KQ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Allan Kilavuka said on Sunday, November 6, that the talks between the management and the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA ) had reached a stalemate.
Kilavuka said the troubled national carrier is losing Ksh300 million per day and if the pilots don't return to work the airline might not be able to raise salaries for this month.
"Pilots are KQ employees before they are KALPA members. I would like to urge them to come back to work. Going to strike does not help because we are losing Ksh300 million per day. If this continues this way it will be difficult for us to meet our salaries this month. It's in their interest," the KQ boss said adding that the management is ready to negotiate with the pilots.
"We have a stalemate and it leaves us no alternative but to continue with a disciplinary process. We are still open to meaningful talks but the most important thing is that these talks need to be held under the condition that they return to work," he added.
Kenya Airways refutes pilots claims
Contrary to statements from the pilots' association, Kilavuka indicated the airline has made efforts to end the strike but the workers have refused to return to work.
"The airline has furnished KALPA members with proposals on what it seeks to have the association amend in its list of irreducible minimums if a deal out of the stalemate is arrived at. KQ is now waiting for the pilots' feedback,” the airline’s boss said.
KQ pilots down their tools on Saturday morning leading to disruptions of flights from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
KALPA Secretary General Murithi Nyagah had in a strike notice dated October 19 accused KQ management led by CEO Allan Kilavuka of unilaterally withdrawing the Staff Provident Fund. The union also accused the national carrier of harassing its officials.
The 14-day strike notice issued by the union lapsed on November 2.
Yesterday, the pilots noted that they would only return to work if their issues are addressed.
"We're ready to resume work even today, so long as our grievances are addressed," Nyagah stated.
The pilots demanded that the management reinstates the contribution of the pension fund that was halted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, they also said they want the airline's board and executives removed for 'poor governance' highlighting that their attempts to have a discussion with the management of their airline bore no fruit.
"We hope the industrial action would prompt KQ's management to call us to the negotiating table for a sober discussion. We sympathise with the passengers who have been affected by the strike," Nyagah added.
The pilots spoke after Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kipchumba Murkomen said the strike was unfair to the new administration, terming it as illegal and an attempt to sabotage the already ailing economy.
"It's unfair for the pilots to try and test the new administration with the strike… we are hoping that a decision will be reached as soon as possible… about 10,000 passengers have been affected so far,
“The action taken by the pilots, considering the economic challenges and the biting drought is akin to economic sabotage,” Murkomen lamented.