Air Namibia and Natau reach wage consensus

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Windhoek

After three weeks of back and forth deliberations between Air Namibia and the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau) over 2015/2016 wage increases, a tentative deal was struck yesterday.

The two parties reached a compromise, and an agreement was signed which stipulates that band A staff will get a 11 percent wage hike, while those in the B band will take home a 7.5 percent increase.

Employees in the C band will get a six percent increase backdated to June 2015.
The union was demanding a 12 percent increase for band A employees, nine percent for band B and a seven percent increase for C band employees.

In a media statement, Air Namibia’s acting managing director Ellanie Samson thanked the union leadership for their commitment, engagement and positive contributions towards stabilising “this very sensitive industry”.

“Our employees are the engine and the lifeline of this airline, hence going forward we will look at both the well-being and the company performance,” she said, adding that the airline would continue to strive for a unified workforce and equitable pay for all employees.

On his part, Natau secretary general John Kwedhi said: “We look forward to working together as social partners, and to dialogue in good faith. Bargaining should always be the tools to address issues of mutual concern.”

He said that the Namibian nation has bestowed on the union the responsibility to take care of the national carrier and “our differences must come second to national aspirations”. Kwedhi urged the airline to attend to issues affecting workers timeously to avoid frustration, adding that the union as mandated by its members to represent them would continue to deliver on the mandate.

About two weeks ago, workers at Air Namibia and TransNamib petitioned the Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb, on a number of issues affecting TransNamib and Air Namibia employees.

About 200 TransNamib and Air Namibia workers marched to the ministry’s head office to deliver a petition.
In the petition workers lamented the institutions’ working conditions and salary structures, saying that the institutions’ employees were among the lowest paid personnel, compared to other state-owned enterprises.

They said the suspended managers were not charged properly and in some cases were re-employed, despite having shown that they did not have the capacity to perform.

According to them the company organogram has changed several times and many different versions are now in circulation.
“They said nobody seemed to know in which direction Air Namibia was heading,” Kwedhi said. In the petition the workers further said that in 2009 the airline decided to move to the Patterson grading system and the cabin crew staff were regraded in 2014, but this did not happen in the case of pilots.

“The company stated that the cabin crew were regraded due to the dispute between them and the company,” they said, adding that “this is clearly a case of double standards and constitutes an unfair labour practice.”

Workers also bemoaned plans by the airline to change permanent employment to fixed-term contracts, despite a provision in the Labour Act of 2012, as amended, which states that all employees will be regarded as permanently employed unless the employers can provide a justification for fixed-term contracts.

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