Aviation workers issue one-week strike ultimatum as talks collapse

Operations across the country’s airports could be grounded in the next one week after salary talks between the management of Kenya Airports Authority and Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) collapsed.

Following the move, the union has issued a one-week ultimatum to the KAA management to effect the 13 per cent salary increment agreement or they will call for major industrial action.

This came as details emerged that the workers from Kenya Airports Authority had not received a salary increment since 2016.

Union officials are now blaming KAA Managing Director Alex Gitari for the current impasse after fresh talks collapsed in Naivasha over the weekend.

According to Moss Ndiema, KAWU secretary-general, the KAA management was not keen to review the workers’ salaries despite the harsh economic times.

Addressing the press in Lake Naivasha Resort where the meeting was going on, Ndiema noted that the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) talks were held in 2016.

“Since then, KAA has failed to review the basic salary for its workers despite an approval by previous management and the Salary and Review Commission capping the increment at 13 per cent,” he said.

While issuing the ultimatum to the management, he said that they would compel their members to lay down their tools so that their grievances could be addressed.

He noted that last year, the management had set aside Ksh 294m towards increasing the salaries of 268 top managers as the junior workers continued to suffer.

“We have around 1,700 union workers who require Ksh 200m every year but the management has ignored all alleging that Covid-19 has affected its revenue generation,” he said.

This was echoed by a union official Robert Gichuru who said that KAA management was instead proposing to reduce the junior workers’ salaries as the management benefitted.

He noted that the Covid-19 defence was weak as the pandemic hit the country two years ago yet the dispute had been going on since 2016.

“The whole blame lies with the current KAA MD and we are asking our workers to be ready for industrial action in one week if we don’t get the pay rise,” he said.

On her part, Joyce Kaburu, a worker and a union official noted that many of the workers could not fully support their families due to the low salaries and harsh working conditions.

“Cases of mental torture within Kenya Airports Authority are very high due to the ongoing impasse that has seen workers miss out on salary review for the last seven years,” she said.

  

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