Category: Aviation

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

Air NZ cuts not good enough for Kiwis

Air New Zealand has announced specific details today about their decision to cut around 1500 jobs from their cabin crew workforce.

Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation, says that the New Zealand public will share worker’s dissatisfaction with the news.

“Kiwis care about each other and about the success of our national carrier, so today’s news that Air New Zealand wants to rush to axe 1500 cabin crew roles will be of real concern to the public,” Savage says.

“Like all aviation workers, Air New Zealand cabin crew are trained and committed professionals. They want to see the airline succeed and prosper again. Like the New Zealand public, they want to see it carry on with even better safety, service, and standards.”  

However, Savage says, the company is risking their good reputation by speeding into a redundancy process.

“The company’s plan to lay off thousands of people while the country is still in lockdown is the wrong move. It’s too rushed and it doesn’t need to be. That is not what fair consultation looks like and is very disappointing to see a once proud company get it so wrong. They risk destroying the very organisation they are trying to save.

“The wage subsidy, Air New Zealand’s cash reserves, and the government loan means we have the time to properly work through a process and look to the future. E tū members can see the scale of the problem and want a ‘just transition’ approach, where people are at the heart of the process.

“We need time to develop plans for redeployment and repurposing, for retraining and a proper recovery for the airline. Only then can the company, with its workers, set themselves up for success. that’s what New Zealand needs right now.”

E tū has welcomed the news today that the Government has appointed former New Zealand Council of Trade Unions President Ross Wilson as independent advisor to the Air New Zealand Board of Directors providing strategic advice from a unionised worker perspective.

“Having a worker’s voice at the top table will help steer or national airline through tough times and help the airline’s leadership see there are better options,” Savage says.

ENDS

For more info and comment:

Savage, 027 540 0074

A sad end for Virgin NZ

E tū members are hugely disappointed that Virgin Australia has decided to shut up shop in New Zealand quickly, bringing a tight knit workforce to an abrupt end.

The company emailed staff last night, telling them a shutdown was effective immediately. Roughly 600 New Zealand-based staff have lost their jobs.

Kylie Halligan, flight attendant and E tū member, says the last three weeks “have been a complete roller coaster”.

“To say I’m devastated is an understatement. I’ve not only lost a job, I’ve lost a family. The Virgin Australia bases here in NZ were relatively small and we all knew everyone. The bonds formed while working and staying away from home all the time could never be replicated in any other profession.”

Other members anonymously shared their sadness.

“It came as a huge blow for my partner and me who were both employed by Virgin with combined service years of close to 20 years. It’s not just a job loss. It was a way of life and a career we cherished too, for me and the hundreds of others we’ve worked with. It’s an extremely sad time for all, as some of us have been here since the very beginning of the NZ operation and it breaks my heart seeing it all end so abruptly,” says one member.

Another member says the company hasn’t done enough to soften the blow.

“The tag line of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be ‘these are unprecedented times’. This phrase has been used to justify some of the most disappointing behaviour that I have seen from Virgin Australia to date. In the past month, my world and many others have been abruptly shaken, and rather than being given kindness, support and compassion from the company which I have served for the past 12 years, they have given me anguish, stress, and uncertainty.

“It will be very tough for many of us to move forward now, for people like me who have flown for the most of our lives, for the solo mothers who fly with us, for the pilots who have trained for a decade or more to get to where they were. The airline industry will not be what it was before. We are unlikely to find jobs working as crew again with much ease. My heart is broken from the sudden upheaval for my whānau and I feel dazed and lost.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says that the union isn’t convinced Virgin needed to close so quickly.

“The company should have applied for the wage subsidy and done more to ensure the continuity of employment and pay for their workers. We are urging all employers, in aviation and beyond, to take advantage of the government wage subsidy and not let the workers bear the full brunt of the downturn.”

“The global aviation industry is in a precarious state. Airlines has been in a race to the bottom for over a decade and workers are paying the price.

“Fortunately, E tū members have been totally united though this which has allowed them to secure the full redundancy package under their collective agreement, plus some additional travel benefits. This had been uncertain through the last few weeks, but members stood tall.

“However, 19 members who have been employed for less than a year aren’t entitled to redundancy – this is a real concern for those members and their families. It’s not good enough.”

ENDS

For more info and comment
Rachel Mackintosh, 027543 7943

E tū tells Air NZ to ‘take a breather’ and delay redundancies

E tū is not convinced that Air New Zealand need to lay off as many people as quickly as they have proposed.

Last night, Air New Zealand told staff, including over 5,000 E tū members, that up to 3,500 people would lose their jobs in the next couple of months.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says that the company is moving faster than it needs to.

“It’s time to take a breather and keep people employed until we actually know what’s going to happen in the aviation industry domestically and globally,” Rachel says.

“Regardless of the problems, Air New Zealand needs to remain a company where there are decent jobs and where workers are respected and valued.  Every Air New Zealand employee understands the massive challenge facing the airline, but the airline cannot recover if workers do not have a say.

“Forging ahead with extreme cuts will hurt too many people. It will undermine Air New Zealand and damage the economic recovery. It will damage the company’s culture and slash at the company’s brand promise. If they rush into this, Air New Zealand will forever be known as the company that kicked their workers while they were down.”

Rachel says that the company has alternatives to consider.

“We understand the scale of the problem, but the company have options. They have $1 billion in the bank. They have access to $70 million worth of wage subsidy and a $900 million dollar taxpayer loan to fall back on. To formally initiate redundancy talks while so many workers are on lockdown at home would be a mistake. It’s just wrong.

“The mid- and long-term future of flying in the Asia-Pacific region is open to speculation. No one can really say what will happen. Domestic and regional flying will start to recover in the next few months as New Zealand emerges from Alert Level 4 and can travel again.

“The Prime Minister has said we need to ‘go hard and go early’ to stop the spread of COVID-19, but Air New Zealand are wrong to take the same approach to firing thousands of their workers.”

ENDS

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

Aviation package: workers await more detail

E tū welcomes the Government’s emergency package for the aviation industry, announced today.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says it’s one part of the right approach.

“It’s responsible to take care of basic infrastructure, and the package should stop the industry grinding to a complete halt,” Rachel says.

“However, we still don’t know what this means for workers both at Air New Zealand and in the aviation industry in general.

“Our priority is always working people, and we are looking forward to the specific support for our members from both the Government and the employers.”

Rachel added that we can’t forget how imbalanced wealth distribution is in New Zealand and across the world.

“We know that extreme global inequality has been driven by a select few hoarding most of the wealth. So, while the stock markets are taking a big hit, I doubt that the world’s billionaires are struggling to put food on the table.

“The top 1% didn’t create their wealth – their workers did that. If we’re to weather this crisis, we simply have to make fair distribution of wealth the top priority.”

ENDS

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

COVID-19 package “A strong start”

E tū is welcoming the Government’s first phase of the financial stimulus package.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says that the announcement is a strong start and will help some workers deal with the stress that COVID-19 (coronavirus) is causing in their work lives and beyond.

“We have now been assured that the Government is taking an appropriate leadership role in protecting New Zealand workers, businesses, and communities,” Rachel says.

“We particularly welcome the aspects of the package that support all working people, whether they are employees, contractors, or casual workers.

“It’s very important to get this right, as the gig economy sees more and more workers without the protections that they need.”

However, Rachel acknowledges that many E tū members will need further assurance that they will be looked after.

“The $100 million allocated for assisting with redeployment will be crucial for our members who are already facing redundancies. Redeployment needs to happen effectively, which means consolation with workers, unions, iwi, and the wider community.

“We eagerly anticipate the details of the package that will relate to certain E tū members, such as the over 5,000 E tū members at Air New Zealand. We urge Air New Zealand and other aviation employers to come to the party, as the Government has done.

“The Finance Minister has described the response as ‘swift, decisive, and compassionate’ which is exactly the right direction to be heading in.

“We will stay together in union and engage with the Government and employers to end up in the best possible position. This is the start of a very rocky road, and the voice of working people will be vital at every twist and turn.”

ENDS

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

COVID-19: Air NZ cannot afford to lose valuable staff

E tū is urging Air New Zealand and all aviation employers to minimise job losses as the company announces they estimate 30% workers will be made redundant as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E tū, the largest aviation union in New Zealand with 5,200 at Air New Zealand, is holding urgent delegate meetings across the workforce to discuss the company’s announcement.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says that mass redundancies will not be in the company’s long-term interest.

“Air New Zealand knows that their dedicated workers are the backbone of their operation. Our challenge to them is to hold fast to their commitment to high-wage, high-skill employment,” Rachel says.

“They have a choice in how they respond to this crisis and we call on them to work with people in our unions to find a way through that builds a future of decent work, skill development and a strong voice for the experts – the people who do the work.”

Rachel says that it’s not just aviation workers who will be affected by immediate economic impact of the pandemic.

“This is the start of a much larger challenge that all Kiwis will need to face together. Air New Zealand has an opportunity to lead by example and pull out all stops to keep workers employed in good jobs.

“As the largest private sector union in New Zealand, with over 54,000 members, we represent people across the many industries that will be affected by the economic effects of COVID-19.

“People working in hospitality and tourism will clearly feel knock-on effects from the border restrictions. Our members in healthcare, including aged care and hospital workers, are understandably worried about the months ahead.”

E tū is expecting the Government’s economic package announced tomorrow to minimise the impact of the economic downturn on workers in aviation and beyond as much as possible.

“Working people simply cannot bear the brunt of the incoming economic fallout. Our Government’s intervention must go as far as it possibly can to guarantee income for everyone affected.”

ENDS

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

COVID-19: Aviation workers under unprecedented pressure

E tū is preparing for a scale of disruption to the aviation industry unlike anything we’ve witnessed before, after the Prime Minister’s announcement this afternoon that all people arriving in New Zealand will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, ensuring a massive hit to the aviation industry.

“Today’s unprecedented announcement will test aviation workers like never before as the whole industry scales back its operations in response,” says Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation.

“As New Zealand’s largest aviation union, we have close to 8000 members all over New Zealand. We have implemented a comprehensive plan to ensure union members and their workplace leaders are supported and can get the information they need. We have already been involved in talks and negotiations with multiple employers. That work will escalate in the weeks ahead as employers begin consulting employees about what the shutdowns mean in their sector.

“It is not just international flying. The flow on effects into domestic and regional networks will be huge. Thousands of workers and their families will be affected as cabin crew, caterers, aviation security, customs, airport workers, engineers, ground handlers, refuellers, and cargo workers see a massive drop off in work. Workers risk redundancies if these hard measures carry on too long.

“The Government’s commitment to supporting the Aviation industry will be vital. Aviation is a life blood industry. It must be supported and ready to rebound soon as the restrictions finish. Aviation workers are skilled workers with high security clearance – the industry cannot afford to lose their skills and workers must remain ready to take off again as soon as possible.  

“Flying itself is still safe. New Zealanders should take advantage of the low fares on offer and explore New Zealand.”

Savage says that it’s not just aviation members who will be affected by today’s decision.

“As the largest private sector union in New Zealand, with over 53,000 members, we represent people across many industries that will be affected by this decision, particularly in hospitality and tourism. That’s on top of the thousands of members in healthcare, such as workers in aged care and hospitals, who are already grappling with this.

“Unions are all about maximising mutual cooperation and collective support – values important to all Kiwis. Now more than ever it is time for New Zealanders to rally around and look after each other. Especially those who are most vulnerable.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Savage, Head of Aviation, 027 590 0074