In a significant setback for Kenya Airways, the national carrier has been directed by an industrial court to pay Sh126 million in compensation to 47 former employees who successfully challenged the termination of their contracts.

The ruling, delivered by Justice Bernard Odongo Matanga Manani of the Employment and Labour Relations Court, exposes procedural flaws in the airline's contract termination process.

The court declared the termination of contracts for the 47 claimants as procedurally unfair, emphasizing Kenya Airways' failure to adhere to the prescribed termination procedures outlined in the Employment Act and the airline's Human Resource Manual.

Justice Matanga Manani stated, "The court awards each of the 47 Claimants the sum of Sh2,700,000.00 (per Claimant) as compensation for the violation of their constitutional rights."

These former employees, who served in the Technical Department responsible for aircraft maintenance, argued that their terms and conditions were unfavorably compared to industry standards.

Despite initial negotiations and an agreement, the company allegedly defaulted on the agreed terms, leading the employees to form a committee for direct engagement.

Having withdrawn from their trade union, the workers claimed that the company insisted on involving the union in discussions, contrary to their agreement.

Passes were deactivated, and on November 29, 2017, the company terminated their contracts, alleging their involvement in an unauthorized strike.

In response, Kenya Airways defended its actions, attributing the dismissals to the former workers' participation in an unauthorized strike.

The court's ruling, however, underscores procedural irregularities in the termination process, shifting the legal landscape.

This verdict not only places a financial burden on Kenya Airways but also raises concerns about the company's adherence to legal and ethical standards in employment matters.

It serves as a reminder of the importance of due process in employment terminations and calls into question the airline's labour relations practices.