NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 11 – The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has said salary increments are not feasible especially with the $500 million expansion plans at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Speaking to Capital FM News on Tuesday, the Airport Manager at JKIA Edward Kobuthi said the organisation’s current wage bill stands at 31 percent adding that pay raises were unsustainable and would cripple operations.
“We cannot sustain huge salary increments. The new Green Field terminal will require more staff members. We must be very careful in terms of our salaries. What sense does it make to give a salary increment today then two years later you declare people redundant,” he asked.
The Green Field Terminal is expected to take two years and will accommodate 20 million passengers per annum.
Other projects include a multi-storey parking garage as well as the construction of Unit 4 to increase JKIA’s capacity from the current six million to nine million.
According to the KAA, the lowest paid employee takes home Sh63,000 a month in basic salary, an amount that union disputes, insisting that the lowest paid worker earns Sh28,000 per month.
“The level that was mentioned in the papers was the people that do our security work, these are the Grade 4s. There are a few Grade 3s and Grade2s that earn a little less. The ones in Grade 4 who have been here for more than a year have had an increment so it’s not even 63,000 it’s much higher than that,” Kobuthi explained.
The Striking KAA employees called the strike last week in the middle of ongoing talks that began last year, when they demanded a 25 percent pay hike.
Kobuthi said the negotiations never reached a deadlock, hence deeming the strike illegal adding that KAA will not engage the workers until they return to work.
“What we are giving is not too little and I’m sure there are people that would be willing to take a fraction of that, but that was never KAA’s intention to go in that direction,” he said.
The striking staff who defied the KAA’s directive to return to work on by Monday were summarily dismissed, with their positions immediately advertised.
KAA has already dispatched 350 dismissal letters for JKIA staff, with over 80 for Moi International Airport in Mombasa and over 30 for Wilson Airport.