September 13, 2005
Queenstown airport workers set to strike
Groundstaff at Queenstown airport are to strike after mediation today failed to settle their pay dispute.
Fifty-five baggage handlers and ticketing staff employed by Mt Cook Airlines will walk off the job just after midnight on Friday morning.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union advocate Ged O’Connell said that the workers were extremely disappointed that the dispute had not been settled.
“We have been negotiating with the company for some time,” he said.
“Two weeks ago we gave 14 days’ notice of industrial action, but yesterday we went into mediation with the company with the hope of settling this dispute without disrupting the public.
“At the end of the day yesterday, company negotiators told us that they would discuss matters amongst themselves overnight, with a view to offering us a new package in the morning. But this morning they told us that they would not be offering a new package.”
The workers are seeking a two-year collective agreement, with a five per cent pay rise this year and another five per cent next year. The company has offered them a three-year deal, with a 3.25 per cent rise this year, another 3.25 per cent rise next year, and a 3.5 per cent rise the following year.
Mr O’Connell said that the company’s offer was just not good enough.
“These people live in Queenstown, which everybody knows is one of the most expensive places in the country to live,” he said.
“They are struggling to make ends meet, and want a fair pay rise.”
Mt Cook is contracted by Air New Zealand to provide ground services at Queenstown airport. Airlines serviced include Air New Zealand, Qantas, Freedom and Mt Cook.