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Good news (and bad news) for Air NZ engineers

December 19, 2005

Good news (and bad news) for Air NZ aircraft

The unions representing aircraft engineers are welcoming news that Air New Zealand is seriously considering their proposal to keep some heavy maintenance work in New Zealand, but say they are disappointed that engine work won’t be part of the package.

Air New Zealand has today announced that it will further investigate the unions’ plan for keeping wide-body aircraft maintenance in New Zealand, but will go ahead with plans to send engine work overseas.

In October, the airline said that it believed it could save around $100 million over five years by outsourcing all heavy maintenance work overseas, with the loss of 617 jobs. The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and the Aviation and Marine Engineers’ Association hired Michael Stiassny and Brendon Gibson of Auckland financial consultants Ferrier Hodgson to help them come up with a counter proposal that would save almost as much money but would keep the work in New Zealand. Under that proposal, about 300 jobs would be saved.

The unions and the airline spent most of last week locked in negotiations over the two proposals.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said today that it was deeply disappointing that the company had not been persuaded by the unions’ case to keep the engine work here.

“It is very regrettable,” he said. “We did the best we could in the time available, and came up with some substantial savings, but at the end of the day the airline did not believe that the business case was there.”

AMEA national secretary George Ryde said that the unions would now do all they could to minimise the impact on staff.

“We have redundancy agreements in place, and we’ll be looking to see whether staff who want to stay can be redeployed into other parts of the company,” he said.

“The part of the engine shop that services marine and industrial engines, and power plants for the RAAF, will continue to operate.”

Meanwhile, talks about the future of the wide-body maintenance operation will continue in the new year.

Mr Little said that the most important aspect of today’s announcement was the fact that New Zealand would retain an aircraft heavy engineering operation which could be built upon in the future.

“Two months ago we were looking at the complete loss of this operation,” he said. “This workforce has put together a credible, professional case to retain at least part of that work, and succeeded in convincing the company that there are alternatives to sending all the work overseas.”


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