Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) officials have been detained until Friday, March 8 for ignoring a court injunction that suspended their strike.
The officials including Secretary Moss Ndiema were presented at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) court for leading a near 12- hour disruption of service at the airport, leaving thousands of passengers stranded, tens of flights grounded.
The government resorted to using the Kenya Air Force to have the operations at Africa’s fourth busiest airport resume.
“We feel for the passengers here, it is not our intention to frustrate passengers but this needs to be done so that the government listens,” said Mr. Ndiema before he was arrested.
The striking employees allied to Kenya Aviation Workers Union are opposed the handover of management of JKIA to Kenya Airways, arguing that the deal could lead to possible job losses.
The strike which began at the strike of midnight on Tuesday evening saw fire engines at JKIA withdrawn from the runway, and security, check-in and baggage-handling staff downing their tools.
The situation remained the same until daybreak when a contingent of police officers arrived at the airport at 7am, descending on the striking staff.
It was not until after 9am that Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia showed up in the company of Kenya Airports CEO Johnny Andersen and KQ’s Sebastian Mikosz.
A tough talking Macharia reiterated that the strike was illegal, warning dire consequences for the striking workers led by their officials.
“Nobody has refused to pay your salary, nobody has given a threat that your job is at risk this is therefore malicious, economic sabotage and a criminal activity,” he said.
“This was uncalled for when we have already given assurances,” the CS added.
Shortly after 11am, the first flights took off from JKIA after nearly 12 hours with clearance and screening of passengers coordinated between the Kenya Air Force, National Youth Service and section of Kenya Airports Authority employees.
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