Aviation services normalize in Kenya after strike

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Kenya Airways 787 K66103
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Operations at the country’s aviation hubs have normalized after the Kenya Aviation Workers Union resumed duty Thursday morning following a directive by the industrial court.

Government officials and KAWU representatives were holed up in a meeting the whole morning trying to iron out sticky issues.

According to information screens at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport most flights departed and arrived on time, though there were some delays and cancellations.

Workers started their duties early Thursday to the relief of passengers and Kenya Air Force personnel who were called in to save the situation.

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By Thursday afternoon around 80 flights had landed and departed from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

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Top government officials, Kenya Airports Authority and Kenya Aviation Workers Union representatives were holed up in a crisis meeting in a bid to end the crippling strike.

No information was available on the agreement reached between the three parties.

Meanwhile, Trade unions Thursday come to the defense of their colleagues in the aviation sector when they were arrested on Wednesday after leading a strike at JKIA.

The trade unions vowed to stand with them until they are released and demands are addressed.

Led by the COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli, Kenya National Union of Nurses, KNUN, Secretary General Seth Panyako, and the Kenya Union of Journalists, KUJ, Secretary General, Eric Oduor, demanded unconditional release of 30  Kenya Aviation Workers Union, KAWU, members and officials.

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Speaking separately, the three union bosses accused the government of violating the constitution and infringing on the right of workers to picket. They threatened to mobilize their workers to a nationwide strike if the government insists on arresting trade officials when a strike is called.

In a meeting with some officials and members KAWU, Atwoli termed the arrests and treatment of the officials being denied bail as an unfair administration of labour practice since the strike was not illegal. Atwoli also faulted Transport CS James Macharia and his Labour counterpart Ukur Yattani for not acting in good time to forestall the strike.

The furor comes from the contentious debate of handing over the profit-making Kenya Airports Authority to a loss-making shareholding Kenya Airways.

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On Wednesday, the Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia threatened to sack all striking workers if they failed to report on duty today.

The more than 1,000 workers are demanding for improved working conditions, medical insurance cover and equality in hiring and promotion process.

They also want the government to terminate the planned merger between Kenya Airways and the Kenya Airports Authority.

Wednesday was characterized by confusion, flight cancellations and massive passenger tail backs, when employees affiliated to the Kenya Aviation Workers Union across all airports and airstrips in the the country downed their tools.

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