Striking employees of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) have vowed to stay put and not to return to work until their leaders are released unconditionally.
The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu), whose leaders were detained on Wednesday during the standoff that ensued after they made good their threat to down their tools, has declared that no return to work agreement will be signed before their leaders are released.
The union made this resolve Thursday after the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli sanctioned the move, stating that world over, workers have always had the right to industrial action if dissatisfied with the way their genuine grievances are addressed.
“The strike that the workers staged yesterday was a legal one, planned to the letter and the authorities informed about it. Why should the Transport CS, at the last minute, make a turnaround, pronounce it illegal and arrest the union leaders?” wondered Mr Atwoli.
On February 5, according to Mr Atwoli, Transport CS James Macharia had called and sought for ways to amicably resolve the then looming strike.
Workers unions, Mr Atwoli said, are never interested in politics and respect the rules that govern the country and that, if the JKIA and Kenya Airways merger is as straightforward as it is purported to be, then documentation for its implementation should be tabled.
“If there are ulterior motives behind the merger, then the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as other relevant investigative bodies should be allowed to do their job and hasten the investigations into the takeover to end the distress it is causing the workers,” he added.
The Cotu boss reiterated his call for the dismissal of Transport CS Macharia, criticising the manner in which he countered the striking workers.
“Those of you, currently working should henceforth stay away from work until Kawu leaders are released,” Mr Atwoli indicated.
Kawu Secretary-General Moses Ndiema, together with other union leaders were on Wednesday arrested as striking airport workers paralysed activities at JKIA.
The workers also vowed to make a procession to the court where their detained leaders will be arraigned on Friday morning.