WINDHOEK - Namibia Cabin Crew Union (NCCU) said it is shocked that the national airline is on a recruitment drive of foreign pilots at a monthly salary scale of more than N$150,000 tax-free at the expense of local pilots.
This while the average monthly salary of NCCU members is about N$15,000, said the union. The union is also denying the assertions of Air Namibia that there is a shortage of pilots in the country who are skilled to fly the company’s specific types of aircraft. The Namibian newspaper reported that the national airline is recruiting more foreign pilots because of shortages of pilots while it is training local pilots.
“What’s most astonishing is the response of the management to have simple justification to offer these favourable employment packages. They simple state that it’s market related. And we must accept that nonsense,” said NCCU president Willem Christiaans yesterday.
He said the union cannot agree with Air Namibia management that the required skills are not available locally.
He queried whether Air Namibia has done a local skills audit and why is it not investing in the growth and promotional policy.
The NCCU also requested the Minister of Works and Transport, John Mutorwa, and the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Leon Jooste, to initiate an audit of the airline’s salaries and benefits to ensure fairness in their allocation.
“Now how does one justify these kinds of differences [in salary]? It is simply unacceptable and we therefore have resolved to request the minister of labour and that of immigration not to permit any foreigner appointment or grant any visa,” the NCCU says.
They also demand Mutorwa to invite all stakeholders to find a cost-effective and long-lasting solution to the matter of appointments at the airline.
Christiaans said they are further shocked that the period of employment is for two years and that the benefits offered are extremely favourable.
He argued that they have Namibian pilots employed by the airline who have the necessary skills and experience to be promoted to captain the fleets.
“We don’t need foreign captains. It’s further alarming to note that the management team have no plan in place to ensure that these so-called experts are replaced with Namibian pilots. We do currently have foreign pilots in our airline yet the management have no plan in place to ensure a Namibian pilot takes over once the contract expires. They are simply not investing in and empowering our Namibian people,” Christiaans noted.
Christiaans said they got information that no application was made to the employment board for permission to employ foreigners and that no application was made to the Legal Assistance Centre through the exemption committee to employ foreigners without Namibian understudies.
He added that currently a number of foreigners are flying for the airline, and the union has initiated an investigation to ascertain whether these foreigners have work permits, exemption has been granted and whether the Employment Equity Commission has been informed.
Further, he said, they engaged the airline last year in relation to salary and benefit increases, which proved futile, as none was offered.
“We again engaged the management this year and management is not willing to consider any increment. Yet we must take note that more than N$1.5 million is planned to be spent on one foreigner. The airline currently, so they claim, does not have money to fix our inflight entertainment system. But this system is necessary to ensure our customers enjoy their Air Namibia experience,” he said.