The Star (Nairobi)

5 December 2012

Kenya: KQ Workers On Leave Pending Reassignment

KENYA Airways yesterday heeded to the court's directive and reinstated recently retrenched workers with salary backdated to September although they will have to wait a bit longer to resume duty.

But while the employees celebrated their victory, the company's share price tumbled to an eight and-a-half year low to close at Sh10.50, a 9.5 per cent drop.

Earlier in the day, KQ had a slight disagreement with the union over the word "redeployment" used in the initial letters handed out to the employees which said that they had been reinstated and should await redeployment to various duties.

The reinstated employees said they feared the management would transfer them to lesser positions or others they don't favour if they are "redeployed."

In a ruling on Monday, the industrial court Justice James Rika ordered the airline to reinstate the over 400 employees sacked in September "without loss of seniority, continuity benefit and priviledges."

The employees were then asked to report back to work yesterday.

"The employees who reported to work this morning as directed by the Court are now in the process of being issued with reinstatement letters and will be sent on leave awaiting redeployment," said yesterday.

"Our lawyers are studying the ruling and its implications, and will advise on the next steps in due course."

Antony Ojee one of the employees who had been affected by the layoff programme said the decision to send the reinstated workers on leave made sense because airlines operate on complex shift roasters and it would take some time for rescheduling of shifts.

"We want to operate in good faith and hence we have agreed to go on leave as they prepare a fresh roaster that would include us," he told the Star in an interview.

Another employee Lillian Achieng, told the Star the indefinate leave period was cause for concern but that she has no choice but to wait for the outcome.

The employees are currently awaiting individual reinstatement letters and reactivation of staff benefits which could take some time depending on department and rank.

The KQ retrenchment which was done in September after several delays (it was initially to be done by end August) has drawn sharp critisism from members of parliament and even Finance Minister Njeru Githae.

Githae had termed the manner in which the sacking was done as "inhumane" because of claims that some of those retrenched were informed of their fate via a text message.

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