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Airline pilots break the silence

Dear Sir,
NAPA has, over the past 21 months, made every effort to avoid industrial action. Air Namibia management has had every opportunity, in the same period, to engage constructively in the salary negotiation process.
Therefore management’s plea to NAPA for extra time to implement the turnaround plan needs to be put into perspective. The turnaround plan has been in operation for one year already; despite this the MD now states that the company is technically bankrupt.
The total monthly cost of NAPA’s demand is a fraction of the daily cost of this strike. NAPA is shocked to realize that management would rather face these crippling losses than give any serious consideration to their pilots’ request for fair pay.
Air Namibia is able to prolong the strike through their employment of foreign pilots, many of whom cost the company more than double what a Namibian in the same position currently earns.
Until 5 November 2012, the only offer on the table was zero percent. To claim that more time will have a material impact on the success of the turnaround plan is an attempt to shift responsibility. There has been more than enough time to make us an offer we could take seriously. Over this period, NAPA has made every effort to involve Air Namibia’s team in good faith negotiation.
Several years ago the company embarked on a process to implement the Patterson grading and remuneration system. The process was driven by a well-respected international auditing firm. It included benchmarking for each position in the company. Upon completion of the research phase, the system was implemented and packages were adjusted accordingly, so that employees earned market-related salaries. The pilots were the only group excluded. They were also never informed of the outcome of the benchmarking exercise.
Therefore we were obliged to seek the information ourselves. In 2010 NAPA did a benchmarking exercise in the SADC region. We surveyed airlines operating similar aircraft on similar routes in common airspace.
Our current demand is based on these 2010 figures. Despite the effects of inflation over the past 21 months, while management did their best to stall negotiation, NAPA did not adjust their demand.
Reference has been made in the press to an automatic annual 3% increase. This is part of the salary structure for every position a pilot occupies in the course of their career, but is only applicable for five years. After that, the automatic 3% falls away, so to claim that every pilot receives 3% every year is simply not true.
It is NAPA’s sincere wish to reach a speedy, mutually acceptable solution to this impasse. We are confident that our track record shows that we made every possible attempt to avoid where we find ourselves today. It is imperative that management now shows a serious commitment to finding such a solution.
Christian Schneider
President NAPA
21 November 2012

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