The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) has refuted claims that they have downed their tools to test the limits of the Ruto-led administration.
Speaking at KALPA headquarters at Rubani house in Embakasi, Nairobi County on Saturday, November 5, 2022, the pilots led by the association's Secretary-General captain Murithi Nyagah claimed that they had stopped working for valid reasons such as pending grievances that were not addressed.
"There could be a notion out there that we're striking to test the limits of the new government, whose reign began just the other day. That is not the case, we have grievances that have been unaddressed for far too long. KALPA believes it's now time to have them resolved once and for all," Nyagah stated.
Consequently, 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.
Among the issues, that they need to be addressed is the pension fund. The pilots demanded that the management restarts the contribution of the pension fund that was halted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, they also said that 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' remarks follow after Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kipchumba Murkomen stated that the strike by pilots 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,” he stated.
KQ Pilots strike
KALPA had in a statement said its members will begin their industrial strike on Saturday, October 5, after Kenya Airways management failed to address their grievances.
The union, which draws a majority of its membership from the troubled carrier, announced that the strike would take effect from 6:00 am, affecting both inbound and outbound flights.
"Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), the representative voice of all pilots in the country, Kenya Airways included, wishes to inform members of the public that beginning Saturday, 5th November 2022, from 6.00 am local time, there shall be no Kenya Airways aircraft departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) flown by a KALPA member," KALPA Secretary General Murithi Nyagah said.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen stated that he hoped that negotiators between the government and Kenya Airways(KQ) could reach new deals to halt the ongoing strike by the pilots.
After a crisis meeting with KQ, the CS stated that the efforts to stop the strike is a major test for the new administration.