New Zealanders opposed to Air New Zealand’s plans to close its Auckland heavy engineering operation and to send planes overseas for maintenance are being urged to get behind the Fix Our Planes At Home campaign.
A new website, www.fixourplanesathome.com, urges people to sign a petition, write to shareholding cabinet minister Michael Cullen, hold workplace meetings, write letters to newspapers, call talkback radio and send emails of support to the engineers facing losing their jobs.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that the site had been set up in response to a huge public desire to help in some way.
“This issue has really touched a nerve with New Zealanders,” he said.
“Ever since Air New Zealand announced its proposal to contract its heavy engineering work overseas, we’ve been swamped with calls from people who believe it is wrong and want to help in some way.
“These are people from all walks of life, from workers to managers. Some blame the airline, some the Government, but they all think that those jobs should be saved.”
On October 19, Air New Zealand announced that it intended outsourcing its heavy engineering work in a bid to save $100 million over five years, with the loss of 617 jobs.
Last Thursday, the EPMU and the Aviation and Marine Engineers’ Association presented the airline with an alternative proposal which would save the company at least $12 million a year and would retain 300 jobs in New Zealand. The proposal was prepared in conjunction with financial advisors Michael Stiassny and Brendon Gibson of Ferrier Hodgson, and is now being discussed with the company.
Mr Little said that the important message to the company at this stage was that there was a viable alternative to closing down the heavy engineering operation.
“We should be working together in the best interests of the workforce, the company and the country,” he said.
The New Zealand Government owns more than 80 per cent of the airline.
“The public has a huge interest in the future of Air New Zealand, not only as shareholders but also because safe and reliable travel is vitally important to our society and economy,” Mr Little said.