KQ threatens to sack pilots after botched strike talks

The airline’s chief executive, Allan Kilavuka, claimed that attempts to negotiate with the pilots had failed in a meeting held on Tuesday overseen by Francis Atwoli, the head of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU).

KQ threatens to sack pilots after botched strike talks
Photo: Courtesy

Kenya Airways has threatened to sack its pilots who will go on strike next week after talks with their union collapsed, in an escalation of the labour dispute at the airline.

The airline’s chief executive, Allan Kilavuka, claimed that attempts to negotiate with the pilots had failed in a meeting held on Tuesday overseen by Francis Atwoli, the head of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU).

Over the previous two years, Kenya Airways’ intentions to cut the number of pilots from over 400 to 207 over a three-year period have been put on hold by the aggressive employees’ union.

“We did have a meeting yesterday (Tuesday) with the Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli. He came to help chair the meeting and we had a discussion but that discussion did not yield the results we hoped it would yield on the way forward,” Mr Kilavuka told a media briefing Wednesday.

“In fact, the pilots said that they had come to demand not to negotiate… They said clearly that the strike will happen if we do not meet their demands. There comes a time of reckoning and I think this is that time. At one point yes we want to listen, but at the same time there’s a bigger mission to keep the airline alive,” he added.

About 400 pilots are represented by the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), which last week announced a 14-day strike notice in protest of KQ’s decision to halt contributions to the provident fund, which they allege is a contractual obligation KQ has with all of its employees. The pilots claimed that since 2020, KQ has arbitrarily ceased both employer and employee contributions and has failed to restart the retirement programme.