Labour Court gives KQ, pilots more time to resolve dispute

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022 08:10 | By
Kenya Airways decides to refund passengers affected by pilots' strike
FILE PHOTO: Kenya Airways planes are seen at the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi, Kenya August 1, 2020. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi/File Photo

Kenya Airways and its pilots were yesterday granted by the Labour Court 14 days to resolve issues that led to a recent strike which left thousands of passengers and cargo stranded at one of Africa’s most important aviation hubs.

Justice Anne Ngibuini Mwaure granted the parties more time after she was informed that the government has formed a small committee to iron out the  issues between Kenya Airways management and its pilots and the conciliation process started yesterday (Monday at 2.30pm) and is scheduled to run until Friday.

 Justice Mwaure, however, directed the airline and the leaders of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), which represents about 400 pilots at the carrier, to update the court on the progress of the talks on December 6.

“I congratulate both parties and we are glad because it was a bad moment. It is appreciated that the parties obeyed the court orders to resume work as the dispute is resolved out of court,” said Judge Mwaure.

She urged the parties to continue pursuing the Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism as “it is the preferred way” of solving the dispute pitting the pilots against the national airline.

Lawyer Leyla Ahmed for KQ told the court since the last court session, the parties first met on November 18 to plan how they are going to mediate on the issues.

“Both parties met on November 18 with the conciliator to identify the key issue and develop a framework and will be having conciliation the entire of this week Monday to Friday with exception of Wednesday,” said Ahmed.

On allegations of harassment and intimidation, the pilots through lawyer Levi Munyeri informed  judge Mwaure that they are now flying without any intimidation by the KQ management and thanked the court for intervening.

Strike trigger

Munyeri informed the court that the pilots are yet to file their responses in the case and urged to be granted more time, which the court also allowed.

At the time of downing their tools on November 4, the pilots stated that their decision was based on KQ’s “unilateral stoppage of both the employees’ and the employers’ contributions to the provident fund since 2020 and has failed to resume the retirement scheme”. The pilots’ association cited the withdrawal of the Provident Fund and alleged harassment of union officials as the trigger for the strike.

Their other grievances are non-adherence to regulations, violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and leadership and governance issues.

In the suit, KQ is pushing for punishment of the KALPA leaders over alleged disobedience of a court order dated October 31 requiring pilots to halt their strike. They downed their tools on November 4, leading to the grounding of planes that left thousands of passengers stranded.

In the contempt case, Kenya Airways accused 11 union officials of staging the industrial action despite the court order.

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