January 16, 2003
Groundhandlers to strike over pay
Mt Cook Airlines tarmac staff in Queenstown have issued notice of strike action, saying they could earn more working in a hotel.
The 22 workers say they will strike indefinitely from January 29 if the company does not make them a realistic pay offer.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said that Mt Cook Airlines was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air New Zealand, yet its pay rates were well below those of the parent company.
“At Air New Zealand, staff on the ramp start at around $12.80 an hour, and can earn base rates of up to $15 an hour,” he said.
“But most staff doing the same job at Mt Cook are paid between $9.80 and $11.72 an hour. These are highly skilled, specialist workers, yet they could earn more as a waiter in a local hotel.”
Mr Little said that mood among the workers was determined.
“These people, who handle not only Mt Cook aircraft but also do all the work on Qantas and Air New Zealand flights in and out of Queenstown, are facing increased workloads through extra flights to the area and the arrival of the new Air New Zealand A320 Airbus,” he said.
“Mt Cook Airlines made a healthy profit last year, and these workers believe that it is only fair that they should be paid in line with colleagues at Air New Zealand. Queenstown is an expensive place in which to live, and these workers deserve to be paid enough to support their families.”
Mr Little said that he hoped the dispute could still be resolved without industrial action.