Kenya Airways (KQ) will not remit salaries for its pilots who are demanding less pay cuts in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
KQ director of operations Paul Njoroge, in a memo to the pilots said they will not receive their March salaries until they drop their demands.
The loss making airline wants to continue paying the pilots 75 percent of their salaries until the national carrier is back to making profits.
Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) which represents a majority of the pilots wants their members to receive 95 percent of their pay.
“Though management vividly explained to Kalpa the rationale of the proposed 70 per cent salary payout to pilots and sought consent for payment, Kalpa maintained that pilots should be paid salaries at 95 per cent and five per cent owed,” Mr Njoroge is quoted by Business Daily.
“Based on our current financial position, pilots’ salaries shall be delayed until when we receive a consent that is affordable.”
In a letter addressed to KQ’s chief human resource officer Evelyne Munyoki on Monday, Kalpa’s general secretary Murithi Nyagah said the airline has made a decision on a matter that should be open to discussion.
“Kalpa reiterates and simply proposes that the salary payout to members for March 2021 be equitable to other KQ employees. Your unilateral and coercive actions – on a matter that should be subject to negotiations – will not be entertained going forward,” Nyagah said.
In January, KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka informed staffers that the company would be cutting employee salaries by between 5 percent and 30 percent for employees earning Ksh45,000 and above.
“We listened to your feedback to consider using pay ranges as a variation of pay rather than Hay grades due to the significant pay discrepancies across several grades. We, therefore, propose that the variation of pay across the company be based on pay ranges. The salary used to determine the pay ranges is your basic pay and all fixed allowances,” said Kivaluka.
This occasioned a tussle between the airline and Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU).
Aviation workers argued that KQ management was using imaginary powers to slash the salaries. Ndiema says that salaries of unionisable employees can only be reduced after an agreement with the union.
Ndiema also faulted KQ for refusing to pay accrued salaries and failing to give timelines when the payments should be paid, despite there being an agreement on the same.
Last week, the airline recorded a Ksh36.57 loss before tax in the financial year ended December 2020.
Revenues for the cash strapped carrier dipped by more than half during the period, even as lockdown measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 took toll on business. The revenue shrunk by 59 percent to Ksh52.8 billion from Ksh128.3 billion in 2019.
The loss is almost three times the loss recorded in 2019 of Ksh13 billion, worsening hopes of a recovery plan for the carrier that is in place.