Kenya Airways has recalled its cabin crew members who are on leave as a strike by outsourced workers entered its fourth day today.
The over 700 workers employed by Career Directions Limited downed their tools on Friday demanding that their salaries be aligned to those hired by the national career. The protesting workers also complained that they have been on annually-renewable contracts for six years now.
The strike, which came at a time Kenya Airways is fighting a plan by its pilots to strike beginning tomorrow, saw scheduled flights to Mombasa, Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Juba (South Sudan), Maputo (Mozambique) cancelled. Also affected was another flight to Harare, Zimbabwe, via Lusaka, Zambia.
In a memo to the cabin crew, Director of Flight Operations Noel Malinda directed those who have been on annual leave to report back to duty immediately with the exception of those who are pregnant. He said the airline is facing operational constraints as a result of the strike.
“We would also like to assure you that once the situation has normalised, we will send you back on leave as a priority,” the memo further reads.
A copy of the contract between an employee and Career Directions Limited shows that a customer agent level 1 earns a consolidated monthly gross salary of Sh40,000 and a meal allowance of Sh5,200.
And though the workers are entitled to a medical scheme, they are strictly required to be treated at the Kenya Airways Clinic and those treated elsewhere are supposed to lodge their medical documents within 48 hours or face disciplinary action.
Meanwhile, officials from the ministry of Labour today held talks with the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) in a bid to avert tomorrow’s strike.
The union has defied a warning by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and a court order obtained by Kenya Airways on Friday to push ahead with their demand that chairman Dennis Awori and Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Ngunze resign or they down tools.
They are accusing the two of failing to turnaround the troubled airline’s fortunes, an asserting Kenya Airways has strongly denied saying it is on the right track towards making the company profitable after making losses of about Sh50 billion in the past two years. Awori has, however, already offered to resign with former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph seen as his likely successor.