These are criminals! Gov’t says on striking JKIA workers

Transport CS James Macharia at the JKIA, Nairobi on March 6, 2019.
Transport CS James Macharia at the JKIA, Nairobi on March 6, 2019.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has condemned the strike by Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) terming it a criminal act.

Speaking to Citizen TV at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, CS Macharia remained adamant that normalcy would be restored and flights from Nairobi will resume their schedules as planned.

“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.

According to him, the workers union officials had no basis to strike since they met with him last week and were assured that the proposed merger between Kenya Airways and JKIA would not result in job losses among other concerns.

He accused their Secretary General Moss Ndiema of mobilising about 30 workers who he said were mostly the people used to screen passengers for departure.

“One person is enough to disrupt an airport and that is why it cannot be tolerated. You cannot interfere with a security installation like this one, it is criminal and will take very serious measures starting with Ndiema” the CS warned.

“It is regrettable and unfortunate and KAWU will have to answer for it,” he added.

When asked about the use of excessive force by police to disperse the striking workers, CS Macharia defending them terming the airport as a high risk area.

“There is nothing like excessive force if you are protecting a security installation like this one. This is a high risk environment….we just don’t bring anybody into the airport,” the CS said.

He added that the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the national carrier had contingency plans and have since replaced those on strike with the help of the Kenya Air Force.

On his part, Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz said he would not leave the airport until the first flight departs and operations restored.

He also issued a stern warning to workers engaging in the strike against disruptions saying the consequences will be dire.

“If you do not want to work stay at home. We have many people out there looking for jobs, we will pay your pensions and employ other people,” CS Macharia said.

KAWU has among other things accused the KQ management of financial wastage.

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