Cabin Crew Strike Suspended

The strike by Air Namibia’s cabin crew, which commenced on Friday, has been put on hold for now as the airline and the Namibia Cabin Crew Union (NCCU) reached an agreement on Friday afternoon to suspend the strike and to continue negotiations over salary re-grading.

However, yesterday the union expressed frustration saying they are not receiving information as agreed with the airline in their latest agreement. According to the NCCU’s executive for research and monitoring, Hendrina Munyika, the airline’s negotiating team asked for an extension until June 13, 2014, to comply with the union’s demands. “By June 13 all our demands should be met, including Air Namibia’s board approval”, said Munyika. “This seemed like a reasonable request and since we feel it is our company we do not want to be unreasonable,” added Munyika. She said the union accepted the request, since it has the full backing of the Office of the Labour Commissioner to enforce the legally binding agreement. However, Munyika explained that the Office of the Labour Commissioner only received the terms of reference letter, which the airline agreed to send to the union by Saturday following intervention by other parties. “When we finally received the document after 21h00 on Saturday we realized that it was not the correct document. If fact, the document they sent has no relevance to the current case,” Munyika said.

A media statement by Air Namibia’s corporate communications officer Oneka Sitali late on Friday indicate that Air Namibia and the NCCU reached an agreement during the interim period until the completion of an internal audit of the grading system. The NCCU is unhappy with the grading and the salaries of its members. The jobs of the cabin crew were regraded when the airline moved from the Peromnes job grading system to the Patterson job grading system in 200910. The cabin crew has been particularly unhappy about the fact that their positions were graded in the B-band and not the C-band under the new Patterson job grading system.

The NCCU members embarked on a strike in the capital on Friday morning, demanding market-related salaries as safety officers. However, the cabin crew returned to work early Saturday morning and all flights are operating as normal. Nampa also reported that Air Namibia was dealt a heavy blow on Thursday when the High Court decided Friday’s work stoppage was indeed a legal strike.

Reginald Kock, president of the NCCU told Nampa late Thursday that they were represented by lawyer Sisa Namandje “who did a good job in defending the interests of the NCCU and the workers in the High Court hearing.” The hearing started at around 22h00 in A Court, and by 23h30 shouts of joy echoed down Independence Avenue as the High Court ruled that the planned strike was legal.

Source : New Era