Sunday, August 12, 2012

■ KENYA: Courts block Kenya Airways staff layoffs.

Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways' (KQ) move to can over 300 of their employee's in a bid to reduce its bloated wage bill following a hefty 57% knock on profits in Q1 of the 2012/2013 Financial Year, has been put on hold by the Kenyan courts "until a lawsuit brought by the Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) challenging the layoffs is heard and determined."

The Union alleges in its suit that Kenya Airways, in addition to the Minister of Labour and the Attorney General, did not follow the prescribed procedures in labour law when announcing and planning for the restructuring exercise.
"The respondent [Kenya Airways] is hereby restrained by way of temporary injunction from proceeding with any negotiations or any staff rationalization that may render members redundant pending the hearing," Judge Onesmus Makau said in court orders seen by Reuters on Saturday.

This development comes after a Tuesday meeting between the Kenya Airways board and the AAWU to discuss the redundancies, never took off (pardon the pun):
"The AAWU, which maintains that it had not been informed in advance about the retrenchment until last Thursday, had requested a meeting with KQ to present its proposal, and a date was fixed for yesterday.“We never met. They never contacted us,” Mpojiwa said yesterday evening."

A court date for the case has been set for 21 September 2012.

Titus Naikuni
Titus Naikuni (StandardMedia)
Kenya Airways has been subject to numerous union backed strikes over the past few years: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 all of which had to do with salary-related grievances and all of which invariably cost the airline dearly as Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni pointed out that in addition to high oil prices and an excessive workforce, "significant annual staff salary increments, and costly decisions driven by the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) negotiations with the staff unions had driven labour costs to unsustainable levels."

Under the intended restructuring plan, various junior staff and management were given until 10 August 2012 to adhere to the voluntary redundancy programme. In the likely event that adequate numbers were not reached, then mandatory lay offs would have to be effected. As part of the downsizing exercise, Naikuni noted that some positions would be declared redundant and in some cases, the airline would have to "outsource labour and services in some of the non-core functions of the airline, due to the technical nature of the industry."