Air Namibia could face strike action


Workers from Air Namibia are threatening to go on strike tomorrow after wage negotiations with the airline broke down.

The strike is planned to take begin on midnight today, The Namibian reports. John Kwedhi, general secretary of the Namibia Transport and Allied Worker’s Union (Natau) that is acting on behalf of Air Namibia staff, said the strike was a last resort that the union was ‘forced to take’.
“We represent all the people in the Air Namibia bargaining unit,” Kwedhi said, confirming that the strike will include 275 Air Namibia union members as well as non-union staff who also have the right to take part.

The proposed strike comes after nine months of fruitless wage negotiations between Natau and Air Namibia. A Certificate of Unresolved Dispute was issued by the Office of the Labour Commissioner on Monday after a concillation hearing between management and workers failed. Natau also served Air Namibia with a strike notice, the Nambian Sun reports.

Air Namibia staff are demanding a transport allowance of N$300 plus a housing allowance of N$550, The Namibian reports. According to Kwedhi, these allowances were first offered by Air Namibia management last year but the offer was withdrawn when management told the union that the first offer was made without board approval. Furthermore, the union says workers are asking for 12 per cent, 9 per cent and 8 per cent increases for the three employee salary levels.

Yesterday Air Namibia said it would seek a court interdict to stop any strike action from occurring. Natau said that even if a court order is obtained, the union will defy it. “We will not go down until they negotiate with us. We have given the company enough time for negotiations,” Kwedhi said.

Kwedhi said the strike could be averted if the airline reinitiates negotiations but he added that “they are not available to talk”.

Air Namibia was not able to comment on the matter. Romeo Sinkala, the airline’s acting head of corporate communications, said in a statement yesterday that “the official statement as Air Namibia is that we are unable to comment at the moment.”