8 November 2012

Namibia: Air Namibia Pilot Strike Averted

A STRIKE by Air Namibia’s pilots that was due to start last night has been postponed indefinitely to give a chance to ongoing negotiations between the airline and the pilots’ association.

The parties were still meeting last night in a last-ditch attempt to hammer out a deal.

The pilots under the Namibian Airline Pilots’ Association (Napa) had given 62 hours’ notice of a strike starting at midnight last night if there was no agreement in their salary negotiations.

Xavier Masule, general manager of commercial services, told The Namibian yesterday afternoon that the strike had been postponed and that the operations of the airline would not be disrupted.

The postponement of the strike could not be confirmed with Napa officials, who were locked in negotiations.

Napa president Christian Schneider warned on Tuesday that there wouldn’t be any Air Namibia flights as of today if there was no deal.

Schneider said pilots had had no salary increases since 2009.

More than 92% of Napa members this week participated in a strike ballot and 100% of them voted in favour of industrial action.

“NAPA gave 62 hours’ notice of our intention to strike, commencing with cessation of flying duties at 00h00 Wednesday morning,” he added.

“This applies to flights originating out of Windhoek after that time. Napa has an obligation to return all aircraft to their home base even after commencement of the strike, which we will honour,” he added.

A pilots’ strike was narrowly averted in September 2008 after an eleventh-hour deal.

Last week, the national airline also avoided a strike after they signed a deal on salary increases with the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union, which excluded pilots.

Air Namibia said a month ago that there would be no salary increases.

Theo Namases, the managing director of Air Namibia, said there was no money for increases and the airline’s board had told management to inform the workers that a salary increase should be put on hold for a few months.

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