PM directs KQ retrenchment suspended

By John Oyuke

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has directed that the planned retrenchment of Kenya Airways workers be suspended to allow for discussions.

He said the plan should be stopped to await consultations within Government and among Management and Staff of the airline.

“Similar Public Companies that have undertaken massive employee retrenchment have entered into negotiation with workers union and agreed on a settlement package mutually acceptable to both parties and Government,” Raila said in a statement.

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The statement signed by Permanent Secretary in the PM's office, Dr Mohammed Isahakia is addressed to Ministry of Transport Permanent Secretary Dr Cyrus Njiru.

It is copied to Francis Kimemia, Permanent Secretary, Secretary to the Cabinet and Ag. Head of Public Service Office, Mr. Joseph Kinyua,  Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Beatrice Kituyi Permanent Secretary Ministry of Labour, Mr Titus Naikuni, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Airways.

It followed an appeal from unionizable staff of the Kenya Airways on the impending staff rationalization programme by the Management of the airline that will see between 650-1500 members of staff lose their jobs.

The PM said the petition raises a number of pertinent questions regarding the planned retrenchment and whether the Company's is applying good corporate practice.

He said it is not clear that Kenya Airways has explored all available options for reducing its wage bill including introducing pay cuts or that it has engaged Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) in discussions over the rationalization.

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It also not clear whether employees of Kenyan origin are facing retrenchment while jobs for foreign nationals performing similar duties are protected.

Naikuni has said in the past the exercise to retrench the staff was done in accordance with the country’s current law laws.

“As a result of increasing fuel prices, the management of Kenya Airways has been looking at ways of mitigating the effects of its rising fuel and operational costs,” he said.

The airline announced plans to shed some of staff through voluntary retirement, redundancies and outsourcing of non-core roles in order to contain soaring costs and protect its bottom line starting last month.

But AAWU immediately complained that the notice for those wishing to apply for voluntary early retirement was very short and it was against recognition agreement, which was still being negotiated.

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The union also faulted the plan saying that the airline had not complied with the principle of consultation, concurrent agreement and engagement with them as provided for in the recognition agreement.

The union further accused Kenya Airways of failing to adopt modern practices and fair participation to the process by involving those who are likely to suffer.

The union said that the economic down turn purportedly being used as the reasons for redundancies was not supported by any document but had been glossed with untruthfulness because the true wage bill of the airline was in public domain.

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Raila Odinga Kenya Airways retrenchment