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Page last updated at 08:32 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 09:32 UK

Kenya pay strike grounds planes

Undated photo of an Airbus 310 under the colours of Kenya Airlines
Kenya Airways employs nearly 3,000 workers

Many flights from Kenya's main airport have been grounded as workers from the national airline go on strike, leaving passengers stranded in Nairobi.

The main aviation union called the industrial action after talks with the management of Kenya Airways failed to resolve a dispute over pay.

A BBC reporter says police have released four top union members who were arrested when the strike began.

The strike ended on 16 August, after workers agreed a 20% pay rise.

The BBC's Wazir Khamsin says the airline's workers, who are members of the Aviation and Allied Workers Union, initially wanted a rise of 130%.

Kenya Airways says it would have to close if it agreed to the demands.

The company first offered a 13% increase.

We'll just have to fold up, there are no two ways about it. I can't give you what I don't have
Kenya Airways's Titus Naikuni

The union members say their salaries have not increased to the same extent as those of senior managers and pilots.

Kenya Airways, which employs nearly 3,000 workers, says its offer will push the company's annual wage bill to about $10m (£6m).

If it complied with the union's demands the amount would rise to $110m a year.

"We'll just have to fold up, there are no two ways about it," Kenyan Airways Chief Executive Titus Naikuni is quoted as saying by Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper.

"I can't give you what I don't have."

Our reporter says the union officials who were detained by police on Friday morning, went on to address the defiant strikers after their release.

Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is one of the busiest airports in East Africa.



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