Home Aviation ITF Kicks, As Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Denies Over 600 Workers To...

ITF Kicks, As Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Denies Over 600 Workers To Join Union

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority is denying over 600 Air Traffic Services workers their fundamental right to join a union.

In 2023, air traffic services workers including air traffic controllers, aeronautical communication officers, telecommunication and engineering services workers attempted to organise a union with ITF- affiliated Transport Workers Union of Kenya (TAWU).

But their employer, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, is denying them their rights by deliberately misclassifying them as managers.

In doing so , they have ensured that these workers are denied the right to a union because a technicality in the Industrial Relations Charter of Kenya means that managers are excluded from joining a union.

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According to a statement by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) , the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has misclassified so many workers as managers that their operation now has more managers than workers!

“None of these workers perform any managerial roles. This move is designed to deny workers their right to a union and subsequently the power of collective bargaining and union protection.

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“Kenya Civil Aviation Authority’s attitude is out of step with many major aviation markets. Across the world air traffic services workers have the right to join a union and industrial relations are recognised as a constructive pathway to ensuring high safety standards, retention and wellbeing of these safety critical workers.

“Right now, TAWU is battling in court to expose this gross violation of workers’ fundamental rights. Kenya’s air traffic services workers are calling on you to sign the petition and support their struggle for a union,”the statement disclosed.

The statement further reads this,

“Our petition to Emile N Arao, Director General, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority ✍️

“Respect Air Traffic Services workers right to join a union

“As Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) you have the power and responsibility to respect the rights of workers to join trade unions. We are shocked to learn that the KCAA, under your leadership, is denying this fundamental right to over 600 air traffic services workers by misclassifying them as managers.

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“These workers perform no managerial role and the move is designed to deliberately deny them their trade union rights by using a technicality of the Industrial Relations Charter of Kenya.

“The KCAA’s move is out of step with major national aviation markets across the world and in Africa. In countries including Australia, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Senegal, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, air traffic services workers have the right to join a union. In fact, trade union representation and industrial relations are recognised as a constructive pathway to ensuring high safety standards, retention, and wellbeing in this safety- critical sector of the aviation industry.

“Ensuring the workers who deliver Kenya’s safe skies can access their fundamental rights to a trade union and collective bargaining is crucial for the sustainable development of Kenya’s aviation industry.

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“The right to join a union and collectively bargain are part of the International Labour Organization’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The ILO Resolution (No. 78) Concerning Freedom Of Association In Essential Transport Services, recognises the paramount importance of a full implementation of Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and of the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) of transport workers and calls for application of these conventions in the transport industry, without any discrimination in all countries.

“We call on you to respect the rights of air traffic services workers in Kenya and:

– Immediately recognise air traffic services’ workers right to join a union
– Correct their classification from managers to workers
– Withdraw KCAA’s challenge to their legal case for worker status and trade union rights.”