Moses Ndiema arrested as CS Macharia vows to sack striking staff

Wednesday March 6 2019

AGEWA MAGUT
By AGEWA MAGUT
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JAMES KAHONGEH
By JAMES KAHONGEH
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Police have arrested a top Kenya Aviation Workers Union official over the ongoing strike that has hit air transport in the country.

The union's Secretary-General Moses Ndiema was roughed up at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as he led demos on Wednesday morning.

It was not immediately clear where he was taken.

Kenya Aviation Workers Union strike

General Service Unit officers deployed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during the Kenya Aviation Workers Union strike on March 6, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

More than six workers of Kenya Airways and Kenyan Airports Authority were injured as police broke up their demo and arrested Mr Ndiema.

The General Service Unit officers in full combat gear descended on the workers who were chanting and waving placards with clubs and kicks.

Hours after the arrest, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, who went assess the situation at the airport, branded striking aviation workers and their union officials “criminals”.

Mr Macharia maintained that the job boycott was illegal and threatened to sack the striking workers.

He said the workers were sabotaging the economy by engaging in strike against the order of the Labour and Employment Court.

CONTROL

He assured that the situation would soon be brought under control, with the first flight, heading to London, set to leave the airport at 11am.

Kenya Aviation Workers Union strike

Stranded passengers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 6, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In total, the minister said 30 flights had been rocked by the industrial action, 80 percent of which were international.

The CS said that he was disappointed with the Kawu leadership, saying he was happy that they were chased away.

"What they were fearing is that the proposed merger between KQ and KAA will result in job losses but we gave assurances that that will not happen," he said.
"So this (industrial action) is completely uncalled for because the deal has not happened."

He said he was not sorry for the force and violence used to remove the striking airport workers.

" If you are striking, you stay at home. You do not disrupt those who want to work," the minister told journalists.

KQ CEO Sebastian Mikosz asked passengers whose flights were disrupted by the strike to rebook or reroute them at no extra cost as the airline counted losses.

Kenya Air Force personnel have been deployed to the airport to help with screening of passengers as KQ scrambles to resume flights.