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Kenya: Airport workers vow not to return to work until officials released

Striking airport employees have vowed to stay put and not return to work until their leaders are released unconditionally.

The airport workers outfit, Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu), whose leaders were detained on Wednesday during the standoff that ensued after they made good their threat to down their tools, have declared that no return-to-work pact will be signed without their leaders’ undebatable release.


The union made this resolve after Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli sanctioned the move, stating that world over, workers have the right to industrial action, if dissatisfied with the way their grievances are addressed.

“The strike that the workers staged was a legal one, planned to the letter, and the authorities informed about it. Why should the Transport CS, in the last minute, make a turnaround, pronounce it illegal and arrest union leaders?” queried Mr Atwoli.

On February 5, according to Mr Atwoli, Transport CS James Macharia called and sought for ways to amicably resolve the then looming strike.

Workers unions, Mr Atwoli said, are never interested in politics and respect the rules that govern the country.

“If the JKIA and Kenya Airways merger is as guileless as it is purported to be, then documentation for its implementation should be tabled,” he said.

“If there are ulterior motives behind the merger, then the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as other relevant investigative bodies should be allowed to do their job and hasten the investigation into the takeover to end the distress it is causing the workers,” he added.


Mr Atwoli reiterated his call that the Transport CS be dismissed from the docket. He criticised the manner in which Mr Macharia countered the striking workers.

“Those of you currently working should henceforth stay away from work until Kawu leaders are released,” he said.

Kawu Secretary-General Moses Ndiema and other union leaders were arrested on Wednesday as the strike paralysed normal activities at JKIA.

The workers vowed to march to the court where their detained leaders will be arraigned Friday morning.

Meanwhile, hearing of the dispute between Kenya Airways and Kawu has temporarily been suspended to allow the government to try and resolve the conflict.

Employment and Labour Relation Court Judge Onesmus Makau Thursday suspended the case to allow the committee appointed by Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattan to resolve the dispute.

“I direct that the parties should await the outcome of deliberations by the committee which might resolve the dispute between Kenya Airways and the union,” said the judge.

The judge also extended the orders suspending the strike and directed that the report of the committee be filed in court once a resolution has been made.

By Daily Nation

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