April 26, 2002

Trade Union dumps AirNam deal

In a surprise turnaround, the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW had relinquished its 10 per cent shareholding in the new privatised Air Namibia.

The announcement of April 25, which throws the spotlight on divisions in the trade union federation hierarchy, was made by NUNW President, Risto Kapenda, at a press conference in Windhoek. It comes in the wake of the trade union federation's Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting held on Saturday, April 27.

The NUNW's investment arm, Labour Investment Holdings (LIH), had already appointed the unions former Secretary General, Ranga Haikali, to take up the position of Human Resources Manager in the privatised Air Namibia. The announcement threw the arrangement into disarray. Finance Minister Nangolo Mbumba, who is Air Namibia's shareholder Minister, said that the NUNW had informed him of the decision. "We respect their decision but it did not come as a surprise to us. We will try to solve that problem," Mbumba said. The Minister said Government will continue with the restructuring of Air Namibia despite the NUNW's decision not to be party to the process.

Government, the sole owner of Air Namibia, had said that from July 1 2002 it would shed its shares in the airline and only retain a 25 per cent stake in the privatised airline. According to the proposal currently on the table, South African Airlink will have the majority shareholding in Air Namibia (40 per cent), local aviation company, Comav, would take up 15 per cent with LIH taking 10 per cent. The LIH, Kapenda said, had not only been instructed to withdraw from the Air Namibia deal, but the union had categorically rejected the 10 per cent shareholding it was offered. A six-person committee, headed by Kapenda, has been appointed to seek an audience with Air Namibia as well top political leadership in a bid to reverse the privatisation of the airline. (THE NAMIBIAN)

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