30 November 2012

Namibia: Air Namibia Pilots Return to the Sky

Photo: Stephanie Savariaud/WFP
File Photo.

NAMIBIAN Airline Pilots’ Association (Napa) president Christian Schneider yesterday said that most of the striking pilots agreed to accept an offer they had been rejecting for about three weeks in order to stop the strike.

The pilots’ union and Air Namibia agreed on a 5% increase to halt the strike, which had been going on for about 27 days and led to a loss of N$5 million per day.

The wage agreement was a victory for Air Namibia, which had insisted that it did not have the money to pay the salaries demanded by the 55 pilots.

Schneider told The Namibian that the union met with the pilots on Wednesday and they unanimously voted to return to work.

“Obviously not everyone was happy, but we had to do that,” he added.

Asked whether they regretted going on strike, Schneider said: “Not at all. Look, no one wants to go on strike. It was our last resort.”

The next salary negotiations with the national airline will be held in three years’ time, said Schneider.

Management earlier offered a 5% salary increase across the board, backdated to April 1 2012, but the pilots declined the offer.

The airline’s spokesman, Paulus Nakawa, announced on Wednesday that Napa had accepted the 5% increase in pilots’ total remuneration package and this would become effective when services resumed.

“The agreement was reached on fundamental principle of the fact that 5% is the maximum affordable figure taking into account the financial position of the company, as well as efforts being made by the company to mitigate the effects of inflation that may erode the disposable income for the pilots,” he said.

Pilots resumed work yesterday.

About 60 flights were cancelled during the strike. To reduce the impact, Air Namibia used contract pilots and those who were not on strike.

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