National carrier Kenya Airways’ October 28 maiden direct flight to the United States was yesterday facing turbulence after an aviation workers’ union promised industrial action over the airline’s failure to agree with its employees on special pay and working conditions for the long-haul flight.
Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) said the looming industrial action would include cabin crew refusing to perform duties on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft that will be deployed for the first direct flight to New York.
Ground staff are also expected to boycott duties.
Correspondence between the union and KQ management shows the workers’ representatives are demanding better perks for the crew, who will man the US direct flight as well as conclusion of a longstanding CBA seeking to rationalize workers’ pay.
“It’s our demand that management commits to concluding the CBA negotiations before October 28, 2018,” Kawu secretary- general Moses Ndiema said in a letter dated October 17 to members and KQ management.
“To that end we are calling on all our members across all sections, that is passenger services, cargo operations, passenger ramp, inflight functions, technical, flight ops and support services, to stay away from the USA operations until further advised by the union. This call applies to our comrades in CDL as well.”
Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz has, however, asked the union to abandon the strike plans arguing that the airline will pick up the CBA negotiations with the union after the launch of the direct flight.
Mr Mikosz described the union’s call to boycott the US direct flight operations as an attempt to “sabotage” KQ’s profile globally and its fresh bid “to generate increased revenue.”