NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 12 – National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) says it has put in place a number of emergency plans should its staff members ignore a court injunction and proceed with a strike scheduled for Wednesday.
The airline\’s Group Human Resource Director Paul Kasimu told Capital Business in an interview that the measures which include partnerships with other airlines are geared towards minimising any disruption should the strike go on.
"All the teams are working on contingency plans as well as making sure we have clear communication plan with our customers to make sure they all know when and where we are flying to," Mr Kasimu said
The move had been necessitated by last year\’s events when a similar strike interrupted the airlines operations for close to three days.
"Last year we saw impunity where people ignored court rulings and we hope this year we will not be in that same space," he added.
Last year\’s strike is estimated to have cost the listed airliner about Sh640 million for the three days that workers stayed away from duty.
Mr Kasimu explained that as member of the Sky Team, the airline had already made plans for their passengers to be transferred to other airlines to various destinations if need arose.
The airline has also advertised for experienced cabin crew to send in their CV\’s but the Group Human Resource Director said the recruitment was part of the airlines expansion plans rather than a measure to replace striking workers.
"We need crew. We are looking at opening a destination every two months for the next one-year or so and that means we need experienced pilots, support staff and cabin crew," Mr Kasimu said.
He said the stalemate between the Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) and the airline was unfortunate but said the management team was still open to dialogue to avert the strike.
In a statement, Kenya Airways said S.M. Mbae from the Ministry of Labour had been appointed as the conciliator in the matter to facilitate talks between KQ management and AAWU.
Mr Mbae has subsequently convened a conciliation meeting on Wednesday October 13, inviting both management and the union to the talks.
As a result of the new developments, KQ Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni, moved to reassure KQ passengers, investors and general public that the airline operations will function as scheduled.
"Ninety eight flights are all scheduled to operate tomorrow and we have no reason to cancel any flight due to staff strike which has now been declared illegal by the Industrial Court," Mr Naikuni said.
The planned strike was declared illegal by the Industrial Court on Monday.
In the directive, Justice Paul Kosgei prohibited the Aviation and Allied Workers Union, its members, agents, servants or any other Kenya airways worker from participating in the strike pending the hearing and determination of the application.
The union was also directed to file its defence to the suit on or before Friday and fixed its hearing for October 21.