KQ threatens to fire pilots after failed talks with the union

Kenya Airways will fire pilots who will go on strike next week after discussions with their union broke down, escalating the airline’s labor issue.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa), which represents about 400 pilots, issued a 14-day strike notice last week to protest a decision to suspend contributions to the provident fund, which they claim is a contractual agreement that KQ has with all employees.

The pilots said that KQ has unilaterally stopped both the employees’ and the employers’ contribution since 2020 and has failed to resume the retirement scheme.

The airline’s chief executive, Allan Kilavuka, said efforts to negotiate with the pilots at a Tuesday meeting, which was attended by Central Organization of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli, had hit a dead end.

“We did meet with Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli yesterday (Tuesday).” “He came to assist chair the meeting, and we talked, but that discussion did not deliver the outcomes we hoped for on the path ahead,” Mr Kilavuka said during a press conference on Wednesday.

“In reality, the pilots said that they had come to demand that no negotiations be held… They said unequivocally that the strike would go on if we did not accept their demands. There comes a moment for reckoning, and I believe this is it. Yes, we want to listen, but a greater goal is keeping the airline alive.”

Over the previous two years, the aggressive employees’ union has halted Kenya Airways’ intentions to cut the number of pilots from over 400 to 207.

KQ said in 2020 that pilots accounted for 10% of the airline’s entire personnel but received the equivalent of 45% of total employee compensation, or Sh6.48 billion, based on the carrier’s payroll bill for December.

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