Kenya Airways Pilots Ordered To Go Back To Work: Court

According to Lady Justice Anna Mwaure, they must resume by 6 am the following day.

Kenya Airways Pilots Ordered To Go Back To Work: Court
Kenya Airways aircraft at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. /THE STAR

The government has called upon all Kenya Airways (KQ) pilots to return to work by tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court on Tuesday, November 8 ordered the pilots to resume work after going on strike for four days. According to Lady Justice Anna Mwaure, they must resume by 6 am the following day.

Mwaure further ordered the airline management to let the pilots undertake their duties and not take disciplinary action against them.

KALPA officials speaking to journalists in Nairobi. /CAPITAL GROUP

Earlier, she ordered 11 officials from the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) to appear before her to explain why they disobeyed the court's orders, which restrained the pilots from starting the industrial action.

Kenya Airways had previously been granted an injunction which blocked airline pilots from carrying out the strike. However, the KALPA pilots went ahead with the action, which led to hundreds of flights paralysed and thousands of passengers stranded.

Justice Mwaure said the case will come up for mention on November 21, 2022, adding that both parties in the case, KALPA and KQ management should refrain from prosecuting the matter in public.

The directive comes a day after KQ advertised job applications for pilots, hinting at plans to fire its own staff who went on strike on Saturday, November 5.

The advert shared on its LinkedIn page stated that it was looking for pilots in the capacities of Captains and First Officers.

Read More: Long List of Requirements for KQ Pilot Jobs: How To Apply

KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka had warned the striking pilots of the consequences if they did not return to work within 24 hours of it beginning on Saturday morning.

"We would like to ask the pilots to come back to work and I'm now giving them from today, 11.30, 24 hours to return to work so that we can continue our operations as they were meant to be. We have a crisis at the airport, we have many people who need to go to where they need to go.

"We expect the pilots within the next 24 hours to return to work...after which we will have to take the necessary action to help us address the crisis that we have," he read the riot act to the KQ pilots.

Kilavika added that there was no need for the pilots under KALPA to strike as he accused them of failing to attend a five-hour meeting by the Ministry of Labour to address the issue, in the company of two Cabinet Secretaries. According to him, they decided to go on with the strike action, which made him question its motive.

However, it did little to salvage the situation, as KALPA accused the airline of failing to address its grievances. They demanded that KQ restarts contributions to its staff pension fund which was stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the payment of all salaries that were accrued at the time.

The KQ pilots also wanted the airline’s board and executives removed, citing governance issues.

“We’re ready to resume work even today, so long as our grievances are addressed,” said KALPA Secretary-General Captain Murithi Nyagah.

“There could be a notion out there that we’re striking to test the limits of the new government, whose reign began just the other day. That is not the case. We have grievances that have been unaddressed for far too long. KALPA believes it’s now time to have them resolved once and for all.

The KALPA official further accused KQ of ignoring their pleas for an audience with the top management of the airline.

“We hope the industrial action would prompt KQ’s management to call us to the negotiating table for a sober discussion. We sympathise with the passengers who have been affected by the strike,” said Captain Nyagah.

Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen addressing the media on November 5, 2022. /THE STAR