Court directs KQ, KALPA to reach agreement on pilots' strike

KALPA officials led by their Secretary-General Capt. Murithi Nyagah at Rubani House, Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Anna Mwaure has directed Kenya Airways (KQ) and Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) to reach to an agreement on pilots' strike and submit a report to the court at 2pm today.

Speaking after hearing submissions from both parties, Judge Mwaure regretted that KQ has continued to lose millions of shillings for the four days the strike has been on.
The officials had been summoned to appear before court and explain why they should not be punished for disobeying a court order asking them to halt the strike.

“I am now talking as a Kenyan leave alone a judge…jailing you is not a solution. Before I give my judgment, can you obey the court order and go back to work? “We are stranded all of us. No one can travel in or outside KQ because of the stalemate”, she stated.

She said the ruling on the matter would be made at 2pm on Tuesday.

In its submissions to the court, KQ want KALPA officials held accountable for the loss occasioned by the strike at the airline.  

KALPA on its part through its lawyers, Peter Kimani and Levi Kariuki, said there has been no structure to enable deliberations between them and Kenya Airways to facilitate a faster resolution to their ongoing industrial strike.

The lobby prayed for the court to provide a mediator for the two parties to resolve the matter faster.

The pilots, through their union KALPA is demanding that KQ restarts contributions to its staff pension fund that was stopped during the pandemic, and the payment of all salaries that were accrued at the time.

The KQ pension scheme needs at least Sh1.3 billion annually, with pilots taking home the largest chunk of the kitty- Sh700 million, which is equivalent to 53.8 per cent of the funds.
The KQ pilots also want the airline’s board and executives removed, citing governance issues.

Mwaure in an order issued on Monday directed the 11 KALPA officials to appear in court on Tuesday, November 8, for the ongoing strike that has left thousands of KQ passengers stranded as the national carrier cancelled most of its flights.

“The following are summoned in court on November 8, 2022 to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt for disobeying court orders issued October 31,” read the court order.

Judge Mwaure summoned KALPA Chairperson Capt. Timothy Njoroge, his deputy Capt. David Magwa, Capt. Mureithi Nyagah, KALPA’s General Secretary & CEO, Capt. Dzochera Warraakah, the Asstistant General Secretary and Capt. Wilson Mathu, the Assistant Treasurer.

Earlier on Monday, KQ Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka had asked striking pilots to return to work or risk being replaced. He said the window for talks is closed and that the airline expects the pilots to return to work before any discussions are held.

"We want them to go back to work before we can talk to the pilots. It’s too late for talks. They either come to work or we replace them," Mr. Kilavuka said.

Kilavuka said the striking pilots will be held individually and collectively responsible for the airline's losses and the repeated damage done to the airline.

He further stated that the airline will not hesitate to hire new pilots to avoid being held hostage by industrial action every time.

According to KQ, 25 pilots have returned to work so far, while 132 others have called in to say they are unable to fly.

The Standard
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