Category: Aviation

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

Latest COVID-19 update to all aviation workers

Dear E tū Aviation members,

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is reassuring people it is safe to fly and is encouraging people to carry on doing so. 

E tū has now escalated our response beyond the initial focus on health and safety to address the wider economic impacts of a prolonged disruption to aviation schedules and aviation work.

If you or your workplace leaders not getting accurate answers from your employer about your safety and health concerns or about the business effects in your workplace please let the union organisers know and they can assist you to set up meetings with your managers and help obtain the information you require.

Financial Effects
While the financial disruptions are already being felt (particularly by part-time workers) this disruption will be temporary and it will eventually end. Unfortunately at present no one knows how long the disruptions will last and what the wider economic effects might be.

Some employers are already encouraging staff to take leave and offering unpaid leave options as a preliminary way to deal with the lack of available work. It is expected some employers will seek temporary dispensation to alter work hours or pay rates but a temporary decrease in profitability does not automatically mean workers should give up terms and conditions.  If, however, jobs are at genuine risk or an employer cannot sustain the business through this period then the union will be open to discuss the matter with employers and assess any temporary solutions proposed. 

Rest assured any request to negotiate temporary changes to employment agreements will be assessed on a case by case basis after taking guidance from the affected members. E tū members want to raise standards in aviation not decrease them. We will not tolerate employers who try to take advantage of the outbreak to undermine working conditions.

Safe Travel
As someone in the industry you can reassure friends and family that flying and air travel is not the problem. The closure of air travel routes is about containment and border safety. It is stopping the spread of infected people to other countries. It is not because flying itself is a risk.

People are not becoming infected because they flew on a plane. They are becoming infected through close contact with a person displaying symptoms. Close contact with an infected and symptomatic person may make a person sick but being on board an aircraft or walking through an airport is not enough. Casual contact with people in public places is not the main source of risk.

At the recent IATA conference in Singapore, Dr David Powell, IATA’s Medical Advisor stated:

“To date, there’s no real evidence of transmission from one passenger to another passenger, despite the fact we know there are instances where people have flown and traveled even when already sick with a fever.

“Most of this outbreak has been driven by close contact with people that are significantly sick and by close contact, in the most cases there actually has been household contact or healthcare worker contact.

“So whilst all of us have seen media reports at the exceptions to that rule, amongst those 90,000 people [infected worldwide], really most of them have been truly close, in other words up close and personal with people unwell at the time”.

Key Points
The following are some key things to keep in mind as the situation develops: 

  • Do not believe everything you read in the media or hear from a friend /co-worker about the virus or the economic effects. Instead take necessary and sensible safety precautions as advised by medical authorities.
  • Seek out reliable evidence-based sources of information.
  • Make use the Ministry of Health website on COVID-19
  • NOTE: We have contacted the Ministry of Health to press for better and more up to date aviation specific information. Their current advice for ‘airline workers’ (dated 5 Feb) is out of date and was written specifically about flights from mainland China at that time. 
  • Remain aware of the difference between the risks involved in ‘close contact’ and ‘casual contact’ and between an ‘infected person displaying symptoms’ and an ‘infected person who is asymptomatic’. Medical advice is that unless you are in close contact with someone who is displaying symptoms you are unlikely to be at risk. Practice good hand hygiene and encourage those around you to do the same. 
  • Employers should be acting under Ministry Health advice. This includes decisions on when a worker who has been in casual contact at work with an infected person may have to self-isolate. If you believe your employer is not following MOH advice you have every right to question their processes and escalate the matter if needed within the company or organisation. If you need help doing this reach out to your union workplace leaders or the union office for assistance. 
  • If your gym, or your child’s school or anyone in public attempts to treat you differently because you work in aviation or at the airport reassure them firmly that working in Aviation is not a risk factor. Point out that treating someone differently because of their perceived health status is not appropriate or rational or helpful. Especially in a country with such low rates of infection. If you need assistance to overcome unfair treatment please contact the union for guidance.  

Thanks for taking the time to read this and the information provided.

Union organisers are on hand to advise your delegates, health and safety reps and fellow union members on the ongoing aspects of this virus outbreak. 

We will issue COVID-19 updates on a regular basis until further notice. Being in union is about looking out for one another and now is a great time to do just that. 

Savage                                          
E tū Aviation
Head of Aviation  

E tū: safety of Air NZ Wuhan crew paramount

The union for aviation, E tū, says it’s working to secure assurances about the safety of up to 10 volunteer cabin crew and any ground crew operating the Air New Zealand evacuation flight from Wuhan.

The Chinese city is at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 170 lives, with the World Health Organisation declaring a global health emergency as confirmed cases surge past 8000.

E tū Head of Aviation, Savage, says so far around 40 crew members have volunteered for the flight that will collect New Zealanders in Wuhan and return them home.

He understands the flight will head to Wuhan on Sunday or Monday. A 777-200 aircraft will be used and the operating crew will fly to Hong Kong the day before so they can rest before the long flight to Wuhan and on to Auckland. 

It is possible an aircraft engineer and aircraft loaders may also travel to Wuhan to ensure a successful turn-around.

Savage says a priority for the crew is ensuring everything is done to keep them safe.

“There’s no shortage of volunteers, but they are asking questions about the safety protocols for the flight and they won’t be flying until they’re satisfied about that,” says Savage.

“Crew need to know that they’re safe, what their risk of infection is as well as the risk of passing something on when they get back. That’s the biggest concern they have, that they could pick it up and not know it and pass it on to colleagues or friends and family.

“We may sign a special agreement for the flight to clarify what to expect and what the conditions are.”

Savage says that includes covering issues such as equipment and protective clothing, quarantine and containment protocols if anyone gets sick, as well as issues related to insurance and members’ sick leave if they do get sick or are quarantined.

Meanwhile, Savage says delegates and health and safety reps continue to be proactive in seeking the latest information from Air New Zealand on the situation, especially as other airlines suspend flights to China.

“As the virus continues to spread, there are anxieties among airport workers. We’re hearing from ground crew members at Menzies Aviation who are wary of touching baggage from China in case it puts them at risk, so there’s misinformation out there about the dangers.

“Good information is the best defence against fear and anxiety. Airlines like Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have so far been forthcoming with information and we expect that will continue.”

ENDS

For further information, contact: Savage E tū Head of Aviation ph. 027 590 0074

E tū aviation members monitor coronavirus situation

E tū says it is monitoring the situation with the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan China, and has so far claimed 80 lives.

E tū cabin crew regularly fly to China and airport workers interact with thousands of travellers every day. E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage says the union’s delegates and Health and Safety reps are keeping a close watch on developments.

“Every employer has a duty of care to ensure employees are well-informed and that safety procedures and equipment are fit for purpose at the increased risk levels being experienced,” says Savage.

“At the moment the situation does not appear to be worse than the SARS virus, and it’s important for people not to panic.

“However, it is serious, and union members in the air and on the ground are questioning their employers to make sure they have up to date public health advice and are not unduly exposed to any more risk than they ordinarily are,” he says.

“It is important that workers talk to their employer whenever they see any risk to health and safety. Everyone at work has an obligation to be safe at work. But, in an epidemic situation like this, employers have an extra responsibility to act fast to support the workers most at risk and to ensure they are informed and protected”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Savage Head of Aviation, E tū ph. 027 590 0074

Airport ceremony to mark Erebus 40th anniversary

A service marking the moment Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into Mt Erebus, killing all 257 people on board, including 20 crew members will be held at 1pm tomorrow at the Erebus Crew Memorial Gardens at Auckland Airport.

Every year E tū hosts a commemoration service on 28 November to mark the anniversary of the tragedy. This year is the 40th anniversary. 

E tū aviation members and union representatives including members of the NZ Airline Pilots Association will gather at the Erebus Crew Memorial garden on Tom Pearse Drive for the service. This will include the traditional laying of wreaths and incorporate ceremonial water from the slopes of Mt Erebus supplied by Antarctica New Zealand

The Minister of Transport and Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford is also scheduled to speak along with Labour MP Marja Lubeck, a former flight attendant and cabin crew union leader.

The service will start at 1300 and last approximately one hour.

At the same time in Auckland there will be a private ceremony at Government House, attended by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy who will meet with representatives of the Erebus families.

Both ceremonies will observe a minute silence at 1.49pm (12.49 NZST) – the time the crash occurred. E tū, the union for cabin crew is inviting all New Zealanders to stop what they are doing and remember the events of that day.

“Erebus changed a nation,” says E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage. 

“257 people from New Zealand and around the world died. This was one of our worst industrial accidents, a day when 20 aviation workers lost their lives. 

“It changed the way the whole world thought about aviation safety and about our shared responsibilities to put safety first,” he says.

“We invite all New Zealanders wherever they are in the world to pause for a minute and reflect on the event and the importance of safety at work and the responsibility we all have to look out for one another.”

The day is also the 11th anniversary of the crash in 2008 of an Air NZ A320 off the coast of Perpignan in France, which claimed the lives of seven people including five New Zealand aviation workers.

ENDS    

What: wreath-laying at the Erebus Crew Memorial garden

Where:  Auckland Airport – the memorial is located to the eastern side of Tom Pearce Drive, 300m north of Puhunui Road roundabout

When: 28th November 1.00pm – there is a minute’s silence at the time of impact 1:49 (12:49 NZST)

For further information, contact: Savage E tū Aviation Director ph. 027 590 0074

E tū Aviation to mark Erebus tragedy 40th anniversary

Every year E tū organises a commemoration service on 28 November to mark the anniversary of the Erebus tragedy. This year is the 40th anniversary.

The service marks the moment Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into Mt Erebus, killing all 257 people on board, including 20 crew members.

It is New Zealand’s deadliest peacetime disaster, as well as the deadliest accident in Air New Zealand’s history.

E tū aviation members and union representatives will gather at the Erebus Crew Memorial garden at Auckland Airport for the service, which will include the traditional laying of wreaths.

The service will start at 1300 and last approximately one hour.

In Auckland, there will also be a private ceremony at Government House, attended by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy who will meet with representatives of the Erebus families.

During both ceremonies a minute silence will be observed at 1.49pm (12.49 NZST) – the time the crash occurred.

E tū, the union for cabin crew is inviting all New Zealanders to stop what they are doing and remember the events of that day.

“Erebus changed a nation,” says E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage, speaking on behalf of the union’s 7800 aviation workers.

“257 people from New Zealand and around the world died. This was one of our worst industrial accidents, a day when 20 aviation workers lost their lives. 

“It changed the way the whole world thought about aviation safety and about our shared responsibilities to put safety first,” he says.

“We invite all New Zealanders wherever they are in the world to pause for a minute and reflect on the event and the importance of safety at work and the responsibility we all have to look out for one another.”

In a sad coda, the day is also the 11th anniversary of the crash involving an Air NZ A320 which crashed off the coast of Perpignan in France in 2008, claiming the lives of seven people including five New Zealand aviation workers.

ENDS    

What: wreath-laying at the Erebus Crew Memorial garden

Where:  Auckland Airport – the memorial is located to the side of the Tom Pearce Drive, 300m north of Puhunui Road roundabout

When: 28th November 1.30pm – there is a minute’s silence at the time of impact 1:49 (12:49 NZST)

For further information, contact: Savage E tū Aviation Director ph. 027 590 0074

E tū responds to Air NZ’s 787 engine problems

E tū, the union for cabin crew says today’s announcement by Air New Zealand of the grounding of between two and five 787 Dreamliners is a major challenge for 787 cabin crew who are currently in wage negotiations.

The airline says the grounding is the result of ongoing engine maintenance problems with the Dreamliners’ Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

“Yet more problems with engines at Air New Zealand has implications for 787 cabin crew members,” says the union’s Head of Aviation, Savage.

“Fewer planes flying means less work and more network disruptions. There is also a risk of some redundancies if 787 crews cannot be redeployed to other fleets or if lease aircraft can’t be found to replace the Dreamliners,” he says.

“We will be doing what we can to ensure all other options to redeploy crew are used first”.   

Savage says the news coincides with wage bargaining for 787 cabin crew.

“We have 650 787 Dreamliner cabin crew in negotiations for a new collective agreement right now and the engine problems have changed the parameters of what has been, at times, a very tense negotiation,” he says.

“Crew are not paid enough for the work they do, and this latest round of engine problems will almost certainly see the company looking to limit costs even more.

“Cabin crew are an under-appreciated group and disruptions to the airline’s performance caused by technical problems outside their control are yet another challenge for them.

“Crew have been through a lot in the two years since the first engine problems were discovered. They are dedicated professionals and they understand how the industry works. However, they do not want to see their working conditions and aviation standards decline even more than they already have.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Savage E tū Head of Aviation ph. 027 590 0074

E tū welcomes Living Wage at Queenstown Airport

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) have announced that they are officially an accredited Living Wage Employer, with all of their workers being paid at least $21.15.

Crucially, this includes workers employed by contractors such as cleaners and security guards, who must be paid the Living Wage for accreditation because they deliver regular and ongoing services to QAC.

E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage, congratulates QAC for taking this step.

“It’s fantastic to see Queenstown Airport Corporation taking the lead in the industry by prioritising fair wages for their workers,” Savage says.

“We hope other airport and ground handling companies follow Queenstown’s example and make sure their directly employed and contracted workers are all on at least the Living Wage.

“E tū Aviation union members are committed to making aviation the first Living Wage industry in New Zealand. There is big money to be made in aviation and tourism – it’s important that standards remain high and aviation workers get their fair share.”

Savage says that Queenstown is an area where decent wages are especially important.

“Kiwis all over the country are dealing with high living costs and Queenstown workers have it especially tough at the moment. This will make a real difference to the affected workers as well as the wider Queenstown community.”

Local E tū member Fiona Lawson, who works at the airport for an airline, hopes this will encourage more Queenstown businesses to get on board.

“It’s exciting to have the airport take such a significant step for their workers, and hopefully it creates some momentum for Living Wages in Queenstown,” Fiona says.

“It’s also time for the Queenstown Lake District Council to commit to paying all their staff the Living Wage, like other councils across New Zealand are doing.

“It’s been empowering to see what local Living Wage networks have been able to achieve for low paid workers. People deserve better wages, and this is how we get them.”

ENDS

For more information and comment, contact Savage on 027 590 0074

Note: Living Wage accreditation has been achieved by QAC because all of their directly employed and contracted workers will now earn the Living Wage, though it does not cover companies that use the airport space, such as airlines and retail outlets.