Ex-Air Namibia employees sue for N$100m

Even in its death, the liquidated national airline is haunted by the ghosts of its past, with retrenched employees foaming at the mouth.

21 October 2021 | Transport

PULL-OUT QUOTE: “Government threw us under the bus.” - Renier Bougard, a former Air Namibia employee

Kristien Kruger


About 250 former Air Namibia employees are suing the airline, government and a number of ministries for severance packages they said they were supposed to receive on 31 March, amounting to N$100.5 million.

The loss-making airline was liquidated earlier this year, after multiple bailouts failed to yield tangible fruits.

Of the approximately 640 former employees who apparently didn’t receive their promised severance packages, about 250 have filed lawsuits against, among others, the airline, government and the ministry of state-owned enterprises.

Renier Bougard, who has worked for Air Namibia for 22 years and is still unemployed, was appointed as an employee representative and met in the labour court yesterday with representatives of Bruni and McClaren, the liquidators and representatives of Air Namibia.

No representatives of government and the relevant ministries were present, and the case was therefore postponed to 17 November.

Teaming up

It was yesterday announced that the case qualifies for a class action lawsuit.

Class actions apply to cases where there are multiple plaintiffs with the same charges against one defendant. It is more practical to merge similar lawsuits against a specific defendant than to bring numerous individual lawsuits.

Parties will meet for conciliation to reach a possible peaceful settlement of the dispute. If negotiations are unsuccessful, they will resort to arbitration.

The employees are suing a total of seven respondents.

Gaining momentum

A group of former employees gathered outside the labour court yesterday.

Although only 34 employees were initially on the list of applicants, Bougard informed the court that they now have a list of about 250.

The respondents pointed out that the signatures of all 250 are required and Bougard assured that they will complete it as soon as possible.

According to him, all Air Namibia employees signed agreements that stipulated the amount of their severance packages.

Meanwhile, there is apparently another separate case against Air Namibia, for the same issue, which will appear in the labour court on 25 October. The case includes one applicant and one respondent.

Bougard said he will apply for the two cases to be merged and include all seven respondents.

In yesterday's court proceedings, Bougard explained why it is important for the government and ministries to be included.

"Air Namibia was the national airline and a public enterprise. I wasted 22 years of my life. The government threw us under the bus," he fumed.

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