Air New Zealand work­ers plan stir on busiest travel day of year


Em­ploy­ees at Air New Zealand are plan­ning to go on strike just four days be­fore Christ­mas, the com­pany said in a state­ment, a move that could af­fect thou­sands of cus­tomers in the peak travel sea­son. Unions served no­tice to the air­line of the planned to­tal strike by al­most 1,000 em­ploy­ees fol­low­ing a pay dis­pute.

The com­pany said the strike would take place on Dec 21, its busiest travel day of the year, with al­most 42,000 cus­tomers booked to travel on do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional flights po­ten­tially fac­ing can­cel­la­tions.

The unions also warned of fur­ther in­dus­trial ac­tion.

The flag car­rier air­line of New Zealand was no­ti­fied of the strike by the Avi­a­tion and Marine En­gi­neers As­so­ci­a­tion (AMEA) and E tu, which rep­re­sent the com­pany’s air­craft main­te­nance en­gi­neers, air­craft lo­gis­tics and re­lated staff.

This stand­off comes af­ter a school­teach­ers’ and nurses’ strike over pay is­sues, just over a year af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment, promis­ing to pour money into so­cial ser­vices and rein in eco­nomic in­equal­ity.

The air­line said the av­er­age in­come of the work­ers plan­ning to strike was NZ$115,000 ($79,085), what it said was more than dou­ble the av­er­age wage in New Zealand.

It said the group had so far re­jected pro­pos­als for an im­me­di­ate 2% pay hike fol­lowed by fur­ther 3% in­crease af­ter a year, with an­other pay re­view in mid-2021. They have also de­clined a pro­posal to stan­dard­ise over­time pay to 150% of reg­u­lar pay rate and a cor­re­spond­ing $6,400 one off pay­ment to ad­dress the change in rate, it said.

“The news is ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing and it ap­pears the en­gi­neers are de­lib­er­ately us­ing Kiwi fam­i­lies’ much an­tic­i­pated Christ­mas hol­i­days as a bar­gain­ing chip,” the com­pany’s gen­eral man­ager of air­craft main­te­nance divi­sion, Viv de Beus, said.

“We re­main com­mit­ted to work­ing closely with the en­gi­neers’ unions to reach a rea­son­able agree­ment and avoid strike ac­tion if at all pos­si­ble.”

Cus­tomers booked to travel on the re­gional turbo-prop air­craft fleet will not be af­fected as this fleet is main­tained by a sep­a­rate work group, the com­pany said.

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