Return to work following court orders for KQ pilots
Following a week-long walkout by Kenya Airways pilots that resulted in dozens of flights being cancelled and thousands of passengers being left stranded, a Nairobi court has ordered the pilots to report back to work by Wednesday morning.
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi was the scene of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) strike on Saturday, defying a court order issued last week prohibiting the industrial action.
Judge Anna Mwaure of the Labour Relations Court ruled on Tuesday that "the Kenya Airways pilots shall resume their duties as pilots by 6:00 am on November 9, 2022 without condition."
The walkout has made matters worse for the struggling national carrier, which has been losing money for years despite receiving millions of dollars from the government to keep it afloat.
The court order, which came as the airline announced that the majority of its flights had been cancelled due to the strike, received no immediate response from KALPA.
The airline claimed that KALPA had "exposed the airline to irreparable damage" in its announcement on Monday that it was ending its recognition of the union and withdrawing from their collective bargaining agreement.
The national carrier must allow the pilots to perform their duties without harassment, intimidation, or taking any disciplinary action against them while the lawsuit is being heard by the judge.
The airline's management was told by Mwaure to let the pilots "perform their duties without harassing them or intimidating them and especially by not taking any disciplinary action against any of them" before the court would now consider the matter.
Kenya Airways applauded the judge's ruling.
"We appreciate the court's quick decision, which now enables KQ to carry on with business as usual. We pledge to abide by the court's rulings, "Allan Kilavuka-Group Managing Director and CEO of Kenya Airways said in a statement.
"We sincerely apologize to all of our customers—passengers and cargo—for the trouble and disruption. They have our word that we'll do everything in our power to quickly restore normalcy. Additionally, we would like to express our gratitude to all of our employees for their tireless efforts over the past four days in serving customers "Added he.
He predicted that the road to recovery would be challenging and that the airline would need to step up its efforts to restructure, reduce expenses, and boost employee productivity in addition to making up for the lost time, money, and reputation.
The largest airline in Africa, which connects several nations to Europe and Asia, is owned in part by the government and Air France-KLM.
The airline reported on Sunday that 56 flights had been canceled as a result of the strike, upsetting the plans of 12,000 passengers.
The 10% of the workforce who are in protest want all salaries that were stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the reinstatement of provident fund contributions.
The carrier estimated losses at $2.5 million per day and warned that the strike would threaten its ability to recover.