Kenya was spared an aviation crisis on Tuesday after the Kenya Airports Authority appealed a labor court ruling allowing workers to go on strike.
On Tuesday, a majority of members of the Aviation Workers’ Union (Kawu) delayed a call to lower their tools in protest against the cut in wage increases, dealing a blow to the union’s demand for better wages from from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).
A source familiar with the details at KAA said union members at Kawu see no need to take part in the industrial action as the wage increase demanded by the union cannot be met by their employer at this time.
The union wanted to obtain a base salary increase of 13% for the duration of the collective agreement (2016-2019) in addition to the annual increase.
The KAA board has proposed raising union workers’ wages by four percent a year (a one percent review for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019). They also offered to give Kawu workers arrears of housing allowances for 2016 and 2017 of S2, S3 and S4 grade staff aimed at preserving money from the cash-strapped authority.
“Kawu union members did not participate in the strike because they feel cheated by union officials. The wage increase demanded by the union is also unrealistic from KAA at this time,” KAA’s source said on Tuesday.
The strike was called by Kawu after Lady Justice Monica Mbaru gave the power of 10 days to conclude negotiations over reduced pay rises with airport workers or they go on strike.
The judge issued the orders on August 5 ordering KAA to conclude wage talks with the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) and serve Minister of Labor Simon Chelugui and the court.
She said in her orders that if KAA refused to comply with the court’s new directive, Kawu would be free to launch industrial action that would bar 55 union officials spread across KAA offices across the country.
KAA initially asked the court to order a halt to the strike, declaring that the planned industrial action was illegal.
The developments come just months after KAA chief executive Alex Gitari said a Treasury decision to mop up 12.5 billion shillings surplus from its coffers in 2019 had left it bankrupt and unable to settle the debt of its suppliers.