Opinion:Kenya Airways Strike,Aviation and Allied Workers Union Once Again Shows its True Face

Kenya’s Aviation and Allied Workers Union, notorious for their contemptuous behaviour just over a year ago, when it ignored a court order and went ahead with industrial action against Kenya Airways, is once more in the bad press when news emerged earlier this week of yet another breach of agreement.
                              Kenya Airways crew went on strike in 2009 demanding a 130% pay rise(photocredit nation.co.ke)

Kenya Airways last year entered into an agreement with the union under the auspices of the country’s labour ministry and the trade union umbrella body, and to the letter implemented the payment obligations including a back dated increase in allowances for their crews.

However, as if that were not enough, the union has now issued another strike threat if the backdating would not be extended by a further 15 months beyond the threshold agreed a year ago and already paid for.

Aviation observers in Kenya are jittery over the prospects of more industrial action, which could likely expand across other airlines too, being already faced with staff shortages, in particular cockpit crew, for which wages according to one source have nearly doubled over the past few years. This however was market driven as simply not enough ‘fresh’ pilots are coming on the market at present and many have succumbed to the overtures of airlines based in the middle East, where ‘greener pastures’ await them upon signing contracts and becoming ‘expatriates’.

Kenya Airways has been countering this move by offering comprehensive pilot training opportunities but then also ‘bonding’ the new graduates of their in house aviation academy, to allow at least the recovery of the substantial training cost over several years, while other airlines have been resorting to offering pilots from further abroad chances to fly, albeit at substantially increased cost.

The airline has blamed these latest developments on disputes within the union hierarchy, where indeed some of the officials who signed the deal with KQ in August 2009 have since been replaced by a new breed of apparently economically inept but politically well trained agitators, portraying union behaviour and lines of thought in the worst tradition of the British trade unions before the ‘Iron Lady’ Baroness Thatcher confronted them head on in her days as the UK”s prime minister and pulled their poison fangs.

Should the union not be reined in by their peers at COTU, the central organisation of trade unions in Kenya, undoubtedly the aviation sector would be appealing to government to look at improved legislation which would compel unions to adhere to signed agreements while still in force and make wild cat strikes less possible or even illegal, combined with a high and deterrent financial and personal cost for the promoters of such activities.

This article is a reblog from Wolfganghthome's blog and the opinions expressed herein do not reflect the opinions of the bloggers at Flight Africa Blog
Article Courtesy Wolfganghthome's Blog
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