Court blocks Kenya Airways’ plan to cut jobs


A Kenyan court has temporarily stopped national carrier Kenya Airways from retrenching its employees until a suit brought by the workers union challenging the layoffs is heard and determined.

The airline, which is 26.73-percent-owned by Air France KLM , said this month it would shed staff through voluntary retirement, redundancies and outsourcing of non-core roles in order to contain soaring costs and protect its bottom line.
“The respondent (Kenya Airways) is hereby restrained by way of temporary injunction from proceeding with any negotiations or any staff rationalization that may render members redundant pending the hearing,” Judge Onesmus Makau said in court orders seen by Reuters on Saturday, Reuters reports.

The Aviation and Allied Workers Union filed a lawsuit in the industrial court seeking to stop the airline’s action on the grounds the management had breached the labour relations act that requires a firm to engage workers through their union before laying them off.

Both parties will return to the court on Sept. 21 for direction on the case, said Leonard Ochieng, the lawyer representing the workers.

Kenya Airways was forced to raise workers’ pay in 2010 after a strike that paralysed its operations.

High costs caused the carrier’s pretax profit to plunge 57 percent in the full year that ended last March.

The carrier, one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa alongside Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways, did not indicate the level of savings it was targeting or how many jobs would be lost in the exercise.