NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – Kenya Airways has fired 140 Engineers and Aircraft technical maintenance team for participating in an illegal strike since Tuesday, 28 November.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Sebastian Mikosz says the management will not entertain actions that sabotage the recovery of the airline which has suffered losses in the last two years.
He says that despite issuing three written instructions to the said staff, “a number of them chose to be defiant and continued with their illegal strike.”
“All staff who participated in the illegal strike have been terminated from employment with immediate effect and KAA has revoked their passes forthwith,” Mikosz wrote in a memo to staff.
However, the sacked staffs have vowed not to relent terming the termination illegal.
Speaking to Journalists on Thursday, the affected employees insist that they will not back down until their issues – the most pressing one being salary increment of up to 844 percent for a technical assistant – are met.
“We are going to take legal action. By Friday afternoon our lawyers will file a suit against the airline for unlawfully terminating us,” said Joseph Oyuga.
However, management insists the technical team got a 60 percent salary rise in February, 2017.
“The board approved a salary review for this department in February 2017 despite the airline’s financial situation. This was implemented in April and salaries backdated to March 2017. A Technical assistant who earned Sh120,000 moved to Sh200,000, Duty Control Engineers and Production Engineer increased to Sh340,000,” KQ management said.
But the Staff says it’s yet to get the increment.
“If we got the increment, we could not be where we are today. Currently, technical assistants are paid Sh36,000 which is below standards of even small local aircrafts,” Oyuga noted.
They are proposing technical assistant’s basic salary to be at Sh340,000, Duty Control Engineer and Production Engineer basic salary to be at Sh1.2 million from the current Sh350,000.
Not demanding but requesting
The team now want technicians to be paid Sh500,000 from Sh62,000 while senior technician are demanding Sh600,000 from the current Sh90,000.
“We were not demanding the pay rise but simply requesting an audience with the Management. When a child requests for bread, you don’t chase them out of the house,” Oyuga wondered.
But the management said it will not be held at ransom by Engineers and Technicians.
Management puts the figure of technical staff at over 600 employees at various levels of which 15 percent of these are participating in the strike.
But the technicians – who say are not members of any union or association – dispute these numbers saying there 220 engineers and aircraft technicians, of which 169 were fired on Wednesday.
The airline has been battling with strike threats in the recent pasts including one from pilots.
In August, KQ signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Kenya Airlines Pilot Association (KALPA) that aimed at enhancing productivity, ending three years of negotiations.
The new CBA came with no salary increment but instead provides an opportunity for pilots to earn a productivity allowance for more hours worked beyond a certain threshold.
The CBA is valid for one year covering the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 with the implementation subject to registration at the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
KQ just finished a capital restructuring that saw the Government increase its shareholding to 48.9 percent of the ordinary voting shares with a consortium of local banks through a special purpose vehicle – KQ Lenders Company 2017 Ltd – now owning 38.1 percent shares of the airline after having a combined debt of Sh17 billion converted to equity in KQ.
KLM saw its shareholding whittled down to 7.8 percent and the balance – 5.2 percent – shared between other shareholders and a new employee share ownership Plan (ESOP).