Category: Aviation

Remembering the Air New Zealand Erebus crew and passengers with memorial service

E tū, the union for aviation workers, invites all Kiwis to join in the remembrance of the crew and passengers in Air New Zealand’s Erebus disaster by observing one-minute’s silence on Saturday.

On 28 November, as there is every year, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony and one-minute silence observed at 1.49pm to remember the crew of Air New Zealand TE901 who died 41 years ago on the slopes of Mt Erebus in Antarctica.

The one-minute silence marks the moment of impact, which occurred at 12.49pm NZST (1.49pm NZ Daylight Saving Time). Twenty crew members and 237 passengers lost their lives in the tragedy.

E tū Organiser Dayna Townsend says the day marks an event that is forever etched into the memory of New Zealanders.

“Today marks a day when our national airline, the nation, and the families of those aboard, suffered a great tragedy.

“The crew memorial gardens near Auckland Airport in Māngere are a focal point for remembrance, and the event is particularly poignant this year, as we consider the upheaval and thousands of job losses for aviation workers as a result of the pandemic.”

On the same day, E tū also remembers the five Kiwi aviation workers who died in 2008, when their Air New Zealand A320 crashed off the coast of Perpignan, France.

Labour MP Marja Lubeck, a former flight attendant, union president, and E tū Head of Aviation, will be attending on behalf of the Government.

Where: Auckland Airport Crew Memorial, Tom Pearce Drive, Māngere

Time: 1.30pm

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Dayna Townsend, 027 590 0070

Executive share offers will further damage airline’s recovery, union says

Aviation union members are “incensed” after hearing the news that a multi-million-dollar share offer has been given to Air New Zealand’s CEO, including offers to the executive team.

On Friday, the New Zealand stock exchange showed CEO Greg Foran issued with rights to around $2.03 million worth of shares.

Six other members of the executive team were also issued rights of a lower value, including former executive Cam Wallace.

With around 4000 of the airline’s workers having already lost their jobs and hundreds of 787 crew set to be made redundant before Christmas, workers have described the airline’s actions as “tone-deaf”.

“I’ve never seen crew so upset as they were over the weekend. It’s just another kick while they’re already down as crew numbers are being decimated,” says one worker.

“This flies in the face of Air New Zealand’s internal programme around rebuilding, which is about supporting from within and looking after staff in order to look after the customer. This is not looking after staff.”

Some crew have found themselves relying on benefits as their incomes have dropped, the worker says.

Another airport worker who prefers to remain anonymous says, “People are losing their jobs. This is completely insensitive.”

E tū Head of Aviation Savage says union members are foregoing pay increases and not collecting contractual performance bonuses to help the airline save money.

“For the board and the executives to take the share options at this time will do nothing to rebuild the airline’s performance. Workers are incensed – it’s rubbing salt into an already painful wound,” he says.

“The announcement will further reinforce the view of union members that the company’s strategy needs a complete overhaul.”

Savage says the union will be taking up the issue of the share offers with Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

“Air New Zealand has drawn down on their government loan and it seems this public money is now being spent on lining the pockets of the senior management.

“The distribution of pay to staff needs to be fair, and the airline needs to retain and create decent jobs. Our national carrier should be something all Kiwis can be proud of, starting with looking after all its employees.”

For more information and comment:
Savage, 027 590 0074

More Air New Zealand redundancies proposed, but airline refuses to end outsourcing

E tū calls on the country’s national carrier to halt outsourcing in the wake of fresh cabin crew redundancy proposals.

On Wednesday, Air New Zealand announced its proposal to make around 385 cabin crew redundant by December, as part of its plans to cut staff numbers further.

However, the company is continuing to outsource work, retaining an agreement with a cabin crew hire company in Shanghai.

An E tū member who wishes to remain anonymous says the redundancy proposal is “devastating” for crew, with the state of the industry wreaking havoc on their ability to earn a living.

“Every time as cabin crew, we think we are going to get a reprieve and get back to doing what we love – we keep getting hit down.

“We’ve already lost 900 mid-to-long haul crew. We want to see Air New Zealand flourish and we want to save New Zealand jobs. Our goal is to see the airline bounce back as quickly as it can, so we can start getting our colleagues back,” they say.

“We constantly ask why the [Shanghai] base is still going, and it is something we will be trying to deal with through this process.”

Another E tū member, also anonymous, says the situation seems like “a rollercoaster ride that doesn’t seem to stop” and will inevitably create issues related to personal and financial wellbeing, particularly for crew that have spent most of their careers at Air New Zealand.

“Crew want to be able to move forward. Some feel this isn’t about the company getting into ‘revive mode’, but rather like a race to the bottom – trying to get crew on minimal salaries using the excuse of COVID-19.”

E tū head of aviation, Savage, says while crew can see the damage COVID-19 has done to the aviation sector, there is no operational reason for Air New Zealand to retain a crew base in Shanghai.

“The Shanghai base has always been about paying crew less and devaluing the role of cabin crew. Outsourcing is a barrier to raising standards in aviation and it needs to end.

“When the work comes back, it needs to come back to Auckland-based cabin crew,” he says.

“For the company to focus on immediate labour costs, without taking into account the bigger picture, is short-sighted and damaging to all aviation workers.”

Savage says the airline and the jobs it provides are a vital piece of New Zealand’s infrastructure.

“The Government’s new approach to procurement – to help create jobs for those most affected by COVID-19 – is something Air New Zealand needs to follow. Creating skilled jobs and training the future generations of airline workers and cabin crew is essential to our economy.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Savage, 027 590 0074

Union warns no more ‘job slashing’ in wake of Air New Zealand loss

E tū wants to see the country’s national airline carrier putting airline workers and their jobs at the centre of the aviation sector’s recovery in the wake of its reported full-year loss.

On Thursday, Air New Zealand announced an after-tax loss of $454 million for the 2020 financial year.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of workers have been made redundant, been put on furlough, or taken extended leave without pay.

An E tū cabin crew member, who prefers not to be named, says although the company had recently thanked staff and was going through cost-saving measures to protect jobs, it now needed to “put its money where its mouth is” with regards to its people.

“There’s always a fear of redundancy. I don’t think anyone feels comfortable right now or could say with 100% certainty that their job is safe.”

They say the way that the wave of redundancies was handled during the first lockdown has left a “bitter taste” behind.

“It was the speed with which the redundancies happened – the fact that people were isolated and unable to get together and talk about it. There’s a sense that there’s always the chance that [the company] could have saved more jobs.”

E tū’s Head of Aviation Savage says the “heavy-handed way” in which Air New Zealand went about its cost reductions, including its clumsy handling of fare refunds, has damaged its reputation with the public and with employees.

“They are no longer the respected brand they once were, and the approach to cost reduction via mass redundancies is not a sustainable strategy.

“Air New Zealand needs to do far better by its employees and not just always fall back on a blunt measure, like slashing jobs.”

Savage says if the airline can’t rebuild trust and ensure the safety of their staff and the travelling public, then it will struggle to recover.

“Any moves to cut more jobs, or to outsource work – like Qantas has – in order to save money and decrease the wages of working Kiwis, would severely damage its reputation even further,” he says.

“As the country’s national carrier, the airline needs to ensure there are well-paid, decent jobs, and to give workers have a proper say in what’s happening, with their voices leading the recovery.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Savage, 027 590 0074

Air New Zealand proposes further wage cuts of $150 million

Air New Zealand staff are dismayed and angered at the company’s announcement to cut a further $150 million from their wage bill.

On Friday, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran, made the announcement to employees, who are still reeling from the redundancies which have already taken place.

E tū Head of Aviation Savage says with initial labour cost reductions of around $370 million, cuts of a further $150 million will only increase the pain for the airline’s workers.

“Thousands of workers have only got several weeks of work left before being made redundant.

“The company is heavily focused on saving money and is in danger of being blinded to the importance of treating both employees and customers with respect,” Savage says.

Savage says the real danger now is that the company may look to use the threat of outsourcing work to downgrade the remaining jobs.

“We will meet with union members as soon as possible to find out in detail how they want to respond. They have lost trust in senior management because of the way they were treated in the first round.

“The company is facing a big challenge, but now is not the time to repeat their past mistakes. To rebuild better, we need to keep these vital workers in jobs.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Savage, 027 590 0074
  
Rachel Mackintosh, 027 543 7943

Air NZ workers ‘devastated’ as more than 1300 lose jobs

More than 1300 workers will lose their jobs as Air New Zealand has announced staffing cuts affecting all routes. 

Long- and mid-haul workers will lose 950 jobs, out of 1600. 

For domestic crew, 300 workers will be made redundant across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 

Regional airlines are also affected, with a combined loss of 97 jobs between Air Nelson and Mt Cook Airline.

One E tū cabin crew member, who wishes to remain anonymous, says they are “absolutely devastated”. 

“Having seen first-hand the work done by our union members, and still having this result, is crushing. Air New Zealand values its staff less than its profit and shareholders, which so sad to see unfold.” 

“The company’s process has been rushed, overbearing, heavy-handed, and uncompromising. I don’t believe the feedback in the consultation process was ever truly evaluated or applied.” 

The member says their future is uncertain, and they expect they will “slip into the thousands and thousands of job applicants” and look at retraining for completely different work. 

They say Air New Zealand needs to “re-establish the culture that they have kicked to the curb and re-establish the trust they have shattered”.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says many more workers are also devastated. 

“It couldn’t be much worse for some of Air New Zealand’s loyal cabin crew,” Rachel says. 

“Many are completely gutted – they have committed years to making Air New Zealand a world class airline, only to be out of work with huge uncertainties about ongoing careers in their industry.” 

Rachel says E tū has been calling for a better process at Air New Zealand since the start of the crisis. 

“Air New Zealand employees need the company to be much more transparent, accommodating, and compassionate if they are to build their way back to being a strong national carrier. 

“E tū is calling for Air New Zealand, other companies, and the Government to rebuild better – making sure we keep and create decent jobs and have union members involved in all decisions.”

ENDS 

For more information and comment: 
Rachel Mackintosh, 027 543 7943 

Air NZ workers want offshored jobs back as redundancies announced

Air New Zealand engineers are calling for their company to bring work back from overseas and protect the communities of skilled kiwis who need work here.

Workers were told on Friday the company plans to axe almost 300 engineering and maintenance jobs as part of their radical downsizing. E tū members think maintenance jobs that were offshored to Singapore in 2014 should be brought back to New Zealand.

Peter Lees, E tū delegate and licensed aircraft engineer in Christchurch with more than 30 years’ experience, says that now is the time for Air New Zealand to serve the people of New Zealand.

“Our engineers produce work recognised around the world as being of the highest quality and take their responsibility to look after passengers very seriously. The company needs to do the right thing and do everything possible to save as many high-skilled jobs as it can.”

E tū Negotiation Specialist Paul Graham says bringing skilled jobs back to New Zealand is the right thing to do.

“Sending work offshore where labour standards are lower was never the responsible move,” Paul says.

“Engineers’ attempts to discuss the issue have been rebuffed by management. They do not want to discuss the alternatives and are ignoring the insights and abilities of experienced engineers. It breaks their commitment to proper engagement with their workforce.

“With last week’s Budget focus on saving jobs, and with the significant public funding Air New Zealand has received, the company now needs to play its part as our national carrier.

“E tū’s Rebuild Better campaign is all about having workers at the heart of our COVID-19 recovery. The key principles include a wages-led recovery, involving union members in all decisions, and keeping and creating decent jobs. It’s clear that Air New Zealand are not on the path to rebuilding better, and that needs to change.”

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Paul Graham, 0272046337

Air New Zealand workers ready to go with a positive message

E tū Air New Zealand members are calling to be part of deciding the future of the industry, as domestic flying starts again.

E tū has over 5000 members at Air New Zealand. As part of their union’s Rebuild Better campaign, they have been sending the company Two Words for Air New Zealand. These two words describe what workers want the airline to do or be.

Members are calling for “Collaborative Solutions”, saying that Air New Zealand is “One Whanau”. These messages and others can be seen online at www.rebuildbetter.nz/twowords

E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage, says: “Air New Zealand is a success because the workers care about the customer experience. E tū members just want to get going again and those facing redundancy want to see a fair and positive pathway back to work as the flights increase.

“In the midst of all of the heartbreak and hurt caused by lay-offs, workers want to preserve the high standards they had and to be part of defining the future course for the industry.

“Union members have helped create a workplace where workers have a say so calling out what they think is important is a natural part of what they do. They don’t want to lose the positive things they have achieved in the last five years.

“They just want to create a better airline and their Two Words for Air New Zealand is something that speaks to this future.”

ENDS

NB: Due to Air New Zealand’s staff policies, photographs in the Two Words campaign cannot be used by media without permission of the person in the photo.

For more information and comment: Savage, 027 590 0074

To organise using some of the photos: Gina Lockyer, 021 586 195

Air NZ chooses irreparable damage to workplace culture

E tū says that Air New Zealand’s effort to save money in an extreme response to the COVID-19 is doing irreparable damage to their workplace culture.

Air New Zealand’s latest response to the crisis includes shutting down the RML Nelson maintenance facility, refusing to bring back work currently being done in Singapore, and keeping workers and the public in the dark about worker exposure to the virus.

The proposal to close the Nelson maintenance facility, with the potential loss of up to 100 jobs, has been under consideration by Air New Zealand since mid-2019. They are using the COVID-19 situation to go ahead with a closure despite regional flying being the least affected of all their activities.

One affected member, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that they were devastated when they heard the news.

“I had to take any plans I had made for the next 10 years and throw them in the rubbish. I took a considerable pay cut moving here, just so I could be a part of this great community.

“It’s not just the employees this affects. It’s also the partners and children that will all be torn from this community. I bought a house here, met my partner here, and have become a part of this community. I planned on spending the rest of my days walking on the beaches and in the forests of this great place. Now, I will be forced to chase work in bigger cities.”

Another anonymous member says that it is a big blow to the Nelson community.

“RML was set up by Air New Zealand to provide a more effective model of maintaining turboprop aircraft, which contributed to lower maintenance costs overall for the company. The growth of RML from Air Nelson has seen over 100 jobs being established in Nelson.

“It was a surprise to me that Air New Zealand have seemed to take a 180 turn on the reasons RML was set up. I am left feeling like Air New Zealand are trying to transfer the impact the virus is having in Christchurch to RML. It feels like we are being asked to accept this proposal under duress, and that it really has not been thought through.”

Another member said the timing of the decision was unfair.

“This will have a devastating effect on me and my family because there is no prospect of finding other work in Nelson. It is being done with very little notice, in a time of lock down due to COVID-19. I feel it is totally unfair to make these moves and make people redundant while the company takes government support.”

E tū aviation negotiation specialist, Paul Graham, says E tū challenged Air New Zealand in mid-March to support the regions and resist the temptation to close down regional operations.

“We called for them to keep RML heavy maintenance in Nelson open. They have ignored this call. They are increasingly blind to the human costs of their financial decisions,” Paul says.

“Air New Zealand are losing the respect of their employees and losing their status as a desired employer. Their behaviour towards their employees is increasingly heavy-handed.

“Air New Zealand’s reputation as a great carrier and good employer is one of the main reasons for their success. It seems they are choosing to throw that all away to maintain their cash reserves while they slash and burn jobs. This is despite receiving the wage subsidy and a substantial loan from the Government.

“Kiwis don’t want our national carrier behaving so badly. Our message to the company: do the right thing.”

E tū Head of Aviation, Savage, added that the secrecy around COVID-19 infections in the Air New Zealand workforce demonstrated their new approach.

“Their brand is more important than safety at the moment. There’s no transparency, little accountability, and they are quickly losing the faith of staff and the wider community.”

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Paul Graham, 027 204 6337
Savage, 027 590 0074