AirNam in outsourcing dilemma
April 8, 2015, 8:48am
AirNam in outsourcing dilemma
TROUBLED Air Namibia plans to carry out an assessment to determine whether the parastatal should outsource several departments and this has put over 400 workers at risk of losing their jobs.
The Namibian is reliably informed that several board members have been discussing the possibility of reducing the workforce at the airline by half to cut costs. This would allow private companies to come in to provide services.
Sources said the board is now waiting for management to submit a report and recommendations on the issue to it.
The decision to outsource will certainly put the future of over half the 700 workers at Air Namibia in jeopardy.
The national airline has been gobbling up State funds over the years and could end up getting over N$4,4 billion from 2012 to 2017.
Air Namibia's spokesperson Paul Nakawa told The Namibian yesterday that the airline's management was looking at new ideas to help contain costs and focus on its core business.
“We are discussing in that spirit but the assessment to determine such has not even commenced yet. We will definitely communicate once this has been discussed with the various stakeholders, because it is still premature,” he said.
The Namibian has been informed the departments most likely to be affected include ramp and ground handling, finance, customer care, procurement, the legal department and corporate communications.
Even though these departments have not yet been dismantled to accommodate private firms, several managers at the airline have complained to The Namibian that their professional input is not being considered, and that the parastatal hires private firms for services which should have been obtained from inside.
“We will look at all non-core departments in the assessment; but until the assessment is done, nothing can be decided,” Nakawa said.
There are fears that if outsourced, tenders might later be dished out to people close to the top executives or board members at the parastatal, as it is already being accused of enriching a clique of foreign firms in consultation contracts.
“In our engagements we assured staff that even if outsourcing or joint ventures became likely, we would ensure that no staff would be laid off,” said Nakawa.
Despite the assurances by Air Namibia that they are looking at cutting costs, sources said the outsourcing of services to private firms will be costly.
An example cited by those in the know is that most departments have fewer than 100 people being paid around N$600 000 a month, but that amount is likely to go up if that function is privatised.
“Outsourcing will leave many Namibians on the streets. The parastatal will be in trouble and this will make it difficult for the person who takes over the running of the airline,” said a source close to the board.
Meanwhile, the airline's acting managing director Rene Gsponer has been accused of hand-picking top executives, who is said to have been pushed through without following proper recruitment procedures.
Gsponer, responding through Nakawa, denied any wrongdoing, saying all appointments of executives at Air Namibia have followed protocol to ensure that they comply not only with the recruitment policies, but also with aviation regulations.
Air Namibia has over the years been hit by infights that involved board members and managers.
Sources close to the board confirmed the infights, saying that there are now two camps within the board with different approaches on how the constantly bailed-out airline should be run.
The model of privatising departments of State-owned companies has become an easy way out for troubled parastatals from the ministry of works and transport.
Fellow struggling parastatal TransNamib is currently in the process of retrenching about 1 000 workers, allegedly to reduce its N$40 million monthly wage bill.
The Roads Contractor Company also plans to lay off employees as a way of cutting costs to turn around the ailing parastatal's fortunes.