Monday, December 3, 2012

■ KENYA: Court orders Kenya Airways to reinstate 455 axed employees effective immediately.

Kenya AirwaysAn industrial court in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has ordered Kenya Airways (KQ) to reinstate some 450 employees, effective immediately, who were laid off in August/September as part of spending-cuts at the carrier.

Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways Crew
The redundancy drive was put in place to save the company roughly USD10million in the long run, with the overall aim of reducing the airline's employee cost base of USD160million by 10-15%, as the airline attempts to create a suitable platform for growth as outlined in their Project Mawingu. 

However, the move proved controversial, with the Aviation and Allied Workers Union (AAWU) arguing that KQ, in addition to the Kenyan Ministry of Labour and the Attorney General, did not follow the prescribed procedures in labour law when announcing and planning for the restructuring exercise. Prime Minister Raila Odinga also waded into the debacle by directing KQ's management to halt with their lay offs a day after the the Industrial Court in Nairobi ruled that they could, infact, proceed.

Today, in his ruling, Judge James Rika rejected an application by Kenya Airways’ lawyers for a stay of orders reinstating the workers as the airline studied the ruling with a view to appeal. He then reinstated the workers, justifying his ruling by stating that their contracts had been terminated unilaterally and unfairly and ordered KQ to pay the affected workers salaries and allowances for the three months from September to date:
All the affected 447 unionisable (sic) employees are hereby reinstated to their roles at KQ held as of August 30 without loss of seniority, continuity, benefits and privileges,” Mr Justice Rika ruled in a judgement read over three hours.

Kenya Airways announced no immediate course of acton, though CEO Titus Naikuni said the company was studying the ruling and its implications.