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KQ ready for talks to avert strike

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – National carrier Kenya Airways maintained on Thursday that it was willing to dialogue with the Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) to avert an impending strike by its workers.

KQ Managing Director Titus Naikuni said the airline had already put in place contingency measures to ensure the strike does not take place, but did not specify what they were working on.

“For sure, there will be intervention… for as long as human beings are there, people must talk. Let me not comment on the issue until I have sat with my management team and seek ways to bring the two sides together,” Mr Naikuni said, adding that commenting on the matter without both parties present would “aggravate the issue”.

The union through its chairman Moss Ndiema had issued a strike notice to the airline over pay issues and failure to engage in dialogue with the AAWU.

Kenya Airways has already written to the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) to intervene in the dispute, following AAWU’s accusation that it was deviating from a return-to-work formula signed last year when the union successfully led a strike that resulted in a salary increment.

The pay rise was to be backdated to October 2009, amounting to Sh129 million.  The union now wants this backdated by 15 months.

The airline however said the demand was unrealistic, un-procedural, illegal and unsustainable, as it would translate to an additional unbudgeted cost of Sh325 million on the company\’s wage bill.

The 20 percent pay increase agreed on in 2009 raised Kenya Airways’ wage bill by Sh900 million.

In the letter to COTU, Mr Naikuni said the dispute resolution process in Kenya allows for negotiations, and that should be allowed to take its natural course.

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