4 December 2012

Kenya: Fresh Row At KQ As 400 Workers Reject Terms

Kenya Airways has given 400 retrenched workers compulsory paid leave until further notice, just a day after the Industrial court ordered the airline's management to reinstate them.

However, the workers rejected the offer, saying KQ wanted to buy time as it seeks to appeal the ruling.

Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) chairperson Perpetua Mponjiwa said if they were not properly reinstated by end of Tuesday, they would sue KQ Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni and the airline, arguing that indefinite leave was illegal under labour laws.

"We have information that they are in the Court of Appeal trying to get some orders. So this is just a game and we are used to it," she said outside the Pride Center in Embakasi.

The workers gathered at the airline's headquarters with the hope of getting their jobs back after more than three months of unemployment.

"We are giving them up to close of business today. By tomorrow (Wednesday) we'll be in court because the courts must be respected," Mponjiwa quipped.

Justice James Rika had ruled that the workers must be reinstated by 8am on Tuesday, since their employment was wrongfully terminated.

In a statement, the airline said it was in the process of reinstating the 447 unionisable workers who were affected by the staff rationalisation programme.

The airline said its lawyers were studying the ruling and its implications and would advise on the next steps in due course.

KQ posted a pre-tax loss of Sh6.5 billion in its first half-year ended September 30, 2012, with high fuel and labour costs heavily impacting profits.

The airline is expecting better performance in the second half, but does not anticipate it will compensate for the loss made in the first half and will subsequently issue a profit warning.

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