Flights disrupted at Kenya’s main airport following workers strike

Nairobi (CNN)Flights were disrupted at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport due to a strike by Kenya’s aviation workers union, Kenya Airports Authority said on Wednesday.

Hundreds of passengers were left stranded Wednesday morning outside Kenya’s main international airport in the Kenyan capital Nairobi as flights had to be rescheduled for several hours later than their official take off time.

Kenya Airways said it is experiencing “disruption in normal flight operations” and advised passengers on flights after 11 a.m. local time “not to come to the airport until further communication is shared.”Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz said 24 departing flights and two arriving flights were interrupted, Kenya Television Network reported.

Ten people have been arrested in connection with the strike, and are still being held, one of the arrested, Moss Ndiea, secretary general for the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KAWU) — the organization calling for the strike — told CNN.

“While we were gathered police were sent and they arrested me. The government and those with vested interest are using the police as an instrument to silence workers. They have resorted to hard tactics to arrest and mishandle innocent workers. We have the right to assembly,” Ndiea said.

Ndiea said about 2,000 workers assembled to strike on Wednesday morning including cabin crew, ground operations, customer care, check in staff and security staff.

The workers are striking over “poor conditions of work, corruption and theft of resources” the union leader said.

Among the concerns are that workers’ salaries have not been reviewed in the past four years and the “takeover and privatization of the airport,” Ndiea said.

“JKIA is a public entity owned by the government. We raised the dispute around that because you cannot surrender a national asset, which is managed by Kenya
Airports Authority to an airline which is in private hands without any due process,” Ndiea said.

The union issued a seven-day strike notice that ended at midnight Tuesday causing operations to be grounded this morning.

Kenya Airways had proposed a bid to take over the management of the airport from Kenya Airports Authority in December, a plan that has been opposed by the aviation union.

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