Militant unions – the bane of Kenya?


(Posted 12th October 2016)

Kenya’s notoriously militant pilots union – and there are now tons of allegations flying around aviation circles whose interests the organization truly serves – has chosen the launch of the annual Magical Kenya Tourism Expo to issue renewed threats against the airline of strike action, should their outrageous demands not be met which include the departure of both Chairman of the Board and CEO.
MKTE2016 goes underway this morning in the presence of hundreds of tourism experts from around the world who came to Kenya as hosted buyers and invited media guests, to cover the event and help promote the country as a desirable destination.
Many of them in fact flew into Nairobi on Kenya Airways’ services and threats of strikes were not taken kindly by the country’s tourism gurus, who hosted their guests last night to an opening dinner at Villa Rosa Kempinski.
Senior attendees, on condition of anonymity, questioned both timing and threats and one said: ‘If they go ahead they put the entire recovery of our tourism sector at risk. We have been working so hard to get so many people from around the world to Kenya. This is our prime showcase to the world to market the country. But as if we do not face enough challenges, now the unions are becoming a threat to the recovery too. Have you heard of such things in Ethiopia or Rwanda or Uganda? I think just like the banks were dealt with by capping their excessive interest rates, these unions must also be capped one way or another before they deal a death blow to us. Next year we have elections, always a critical time and bringing extra challenges to market the country. I therefore find it interesting what is happening, timing and all. They serve a political agenda no doubt and in the process are ready to kill off tourism. Let KQ continue their recovery but not like this‘, echoing a number of similar sentiments voiced by Kenyan tourism stakeholders in the room.
Another more regular commentator from within the industry then added: ‘Make no mistake, no matter who is running KQ, the unions will never be satisfied until they worm their way into the airline and can dictate. They are someone’s fifth column and a certain other airline will be laughing all the way to the bank if they go ahead and strike. This is now all about the 2018 elections and the unions preparing the ground for their political masters, helping to create chaos‘.
Few foreign participants, exhibitors and hosted buyers alike, had heard as of last night that a strike might be called but will no doubt figure that out soon enough when they get copies of the local newspapers into their hands.
Be sure to watch this space for updates and latest developments how this latest saga will play out.