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Kenya Airways Files Notice to End Pilots Pact, Union Recognition

Kenya Airways Plc terminated its recognition of a collective bargaining agreement with a pilots’ union as a labor dispute that has left thousands of passengers stranded across its network dragged into a fourth day.

The airline accused the Kenya Airline Pilots Association officials, or Kalpa, of disregarding dispute resolution mechanisms and ignoring a court ruling that declared the industrial action illegal, according to a letter to Kenya’s Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.

“Due to this unlawful action by Kalpa, the customers of KQ both locally and globally have suffered and continue to suffer immeasurable inconvenience and losses, exposing the airline to irreparable damage in respect to its financial position and reputation,” according to the Nov. 7 letter. “This amounts to economic sabotage.”

Separately, the East African nation’s labor court summoned 11 union officials “to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt of court for disobeying court orders,” according to an order by Justice Anna Mwaure.

The court outlawed the strike on Oct. 31, but Kalpa members went ahead and commenced one on Nov. 5. They are seeking better working conditions, including reinstatement of a 60 million-shilling ($493,600) monthly contribution to a staff provident fund.

The airline, which normally operates about 60-70 daily flights, scheduled 26 on Tuesday, according to its Twitter account. On average, the airline transports 150 tons of fresh produce daily — including flowers, which are among Kenya’s top exports — to Europe and the Middle East. It ships 20 tons of vital pharmaceutical products into East Africa’s top economy.

Kalpa’s General-Secretary Murithi Nyagah wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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