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COTU mediates Kenya Airways strike

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 15- Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli was on Saturday leading officials of the Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) in negotiations with the Kenya Airways (KQ) management over the on-going strike.

Mr Atwoli, who spent the better part of the day at the KQ headquarters in Embakasi said discussions were going on well and that they hoped to reach an amicable solution.

“We are dialoguing and have presented the figures that we have and which are guided by some other negotiating principles, to the employers,” he said.

“The management is very cooperative. They have allowed us into their offices to work out the issues we have here. These are good signs of good industrial relations,” he added.

The AAWU represent about 3,500 KQ workers who on Friday went on a go-slow demanding a 130 percent salary increment despite a court order issued Wednesday prohibiting the strike.

On its part, the airline has upped its offer to 13 percent citing the hard economic times that the aviation industry is currently facing but this figure has been rejected by the employees.

But on Saturday, the national carrier is said to have invited the Federation of Kenya Employers to help in computation of the figures in order to come up with a deal that is agreeable with all parties.

“The employer has brought his own team here to make sure they look into those figures, come back to us and see whether we can agree on a return to work formula,” Mr Atwoli said.

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In a statement, Kenya Airways also confirmed the talks, but said it regrets that its operations continued to be hampered by the strike.

“Good progress is being made and a further update will be provided as soon as a clearer position is reached. Unfortunately Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is very crowded with delayed passengers as result of the cancelled flights,” said Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni.

KQ asked its clients to be patient as the negotiations on the way forward continued.

“The management of Kenya Airways deeply regrets this unfortunate circumstances and the inconvenience caused to its customers. We request understanding while the matter is being resolved,” the CEO appealed.

Although the management has tried to put on a brave face, the disruptions have led to a significant decline in the airline’s operations which was as at Friday were 50% down.

A number of flights have been cancelled and it was not clear whether any had taken off on Saturday.

The situation might remain dire until a deal is struck as the Secretary General maintained they would not budge.

“If we don’t agree, we continue the way we are until we get a solution. We are prepared to be here for 12, 24 or 36, 48 hours,” he vowed

The government which owns a 23 percent stake in the airline has remained awfully quiet on the matter.

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