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One aviation union trumps another – for now

One aviation union trumps another – for now

Airlines in Kenya, most notably Kenya Airways, have been suffering from union militancy for some time now with radicals among the union leaderships often making outrageous demands to control the airline business.

Now, a just concluded court case between two unions, which turned their guns on each other rather than the airlines for a change, has established that the registration of one of them, the Kenya Aviation Workers Union, in short KAWU, was illegal and that the group must be deregistered.

The order was served on the Kenyan government, and it is expected that the formal deregistration notice will be published in the next edition of the Kenya Gazette.


The present 2,500 union members will be left to wonder if they should join the competing outfit which brought their union down or else resume a new registration process, this time meeting the requirements to the letter.

The “guilty” party was named as the Registrar of Trade Unions for failing to consult the National Labor Board, giving the plaintiff, the Aviation and Airport Services Workers Union, temporary supremacy. The Airports Authority Staff & Workers’ Union (AASWU) itself is under government embargo after a Gazette Notice earlier in the year that the government did not recognize them as one of the many unions affiliated to the Central Organization of Trade Unions, in short COTU.

Generally, union activities in the aviation industry have raised eyebrows and sentiments to have union powers clipped by new legislation, while demands have been made to throw union leaders, found to violate court orders, into jail for contempt of court.


Round one of this battle might have gone to AASWU, but no doubt KAWU will find ways and means to get back into the game, given the princely pay packages for union leaders and the political influence they can wield on behalf of their true masters. It remains to be seen if an appeal will be launched against the ruling of Kenya’s Labor Court and a stay of execution be requested until such an appeal could be heard and concluded.

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