Air NZ En­gi­neers to Strike, Thou­sands of Pas­sen­gers Could be Af­fected

Fiji Sun - - Asia News - RNZI

Air New Zealand en­gi­neers are plan­ning to go on strike just four days ahead of Christ­mas in a move which could bring huge dis­rup­tions to trav­ellers’ hol­i­day plans. The air­line’s en­gi­neers are plan­ning to strike on De­cem­ber 21, the busiest day of the year for travel.

Close to 42,000 cus­tomers are booked to travel do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally on that day. The Avi­a­tion and Ma­rine En­gi­neers As­so­ci­a­tion (AMEA) and

unions, no­ti­fied the air­line on Thurs­day of a to­tal strike by al­most a thou­sand unionised em­ploy­ees. The unions have also ad­vised Air New Zealand to ex­pect fur­ther in­dus­trial ac­tion. “Close to 42,000 cus­tomers booked to travel do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally on 21 De­cem­ber alone now face po­ten­tial flight can­cel­la­tions,” Air New Zealand said in a state­ment.

“The av­er­age in­come of the main­te­nance en­gi­neers, lo­gis­tics and other staff to strike is NZ$115,000 (FJ$242,999.23) - more than dou­ble the av­er­age wage in New Zealand and around 170 of them earn more than NZ$150,000 (FJ$316,905.54). “While the group has re­ceived pay in­creases an­nu­ally for the past 12 years, it has so far re­jected re­cent pro­pos­als by the air­line in­clud­ing an im­me­di­ate 2 per cent pay in­crease fol­lowed by a fur­ther 3 per­cent in­crease af­ter 12 months, with a fur­ther pay re­view in mid2021.” Air New Zealand gen­eral man­ager of air­craft main­te­nance Viv de Beus said the news was “ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing.”

“We know how im­por­tant sum­mer hol­i­days are for our cus­tomers who look for­ward to be­ing able to gather with friends and fam­ily at this im­por­tant time of year,” she said.

“It would be dev­as­tat­ing to see the hol­i­day plans of more than 40,000 hard­work­ing Ki­wis and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors ru­ined. “We have only been in ne­go­ti­a­tions with this group for six weeks so in­dus­trial ac­tion is en­tirely pre­ma­ture. “We re­main com­mit­ted to work­ing closely with the en­gi­neers’ unions to reach a rea­son­able agree­ment and avoid strike ac­tion if at all pos­si­ble.”

Air New Zealand said it will re­main in con­tact with cus­tomers booked to travel on De­cem­ber 21. E tu said in a state­ment they were dis­ap­pointed with the “mis­lead­ing” in­for­ma­tion Air Zealand had re­leased re­gard­ing the strike. “No one wants to dis­rupt peo­ple’s Christ­mas plans, but Air New Zealand has taken an un­nec­es­sar­ily ag­gres­sive ap­proach.

“This is not just about pay. This is about re­peated pro­pos­als by the air­line weeks out from Christ­mas to pay them less than col­leagues who have al­ready set­tled, and to cut into key con­di­tions, in­clud­ing over­time rates.

“This af­fects line and hangar en­gi­neers, but also store work­ers and air­craft clean­ers, who are cov­ered by the same doc­u­ment and who are strug­gling to get ahead.

“Our mem­bers feel un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated and un­der at­tack. The bal­lot re­sults show an over­whelm­ing re­solve to take ac­tion to de­fend them­selves.

said tak­ing strike ac­tion was ex­tremely rare for Air New Zealand union mem­bers.

Pas­sen­gers wait for their flights at Auck­land Air­port.

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