Engineers Ballot Results Regarding Air NZ
Statement to press conference, Club Room, Air New Zealand domestic terminal, Auckland Airport, 2pm
The result in the ballot of Air New Zealand engineering workers on whether to accept a proposed deal on the future of their work is as follows:
Members of the two unions, the EPMU and the AMEA, were asked to vote on two aspects of the proposal:
variation to the current collective agreements.
2. Proposed new collective employment agreements to come into effect in April 1.
The results are:
Auckland: Variation – 63% yes, 37%
New agreement – 68% yes, 32% no.
Christchurch: Variation – 63% yes, 37% no.
New agreement – 71% yes, 29% no.
Auckland Variation –
67% yes, 33% no.
New agreement – 73% yes, 27% no.
Christchurch Variation – 45% yes, 55% no.
New agreement – 49% yes, 51% no.
A condition of the ballot was that all parts of the workforce had to support the proposal for it to proceed.
The result today does not meet that condition.
From the unions’ point of view, however, this is not the end of the line.
Keeping this work in New Zealand and having a viable aircraft engineering business is too important to give up.
The unions were under enormous pressure following Air New Zealand’s October 19 announcement to contract out wide-body aircraft maintenance to respond with a credible counter proposal.
We need to remember that the company proposal centred on the Auckland wide-body maintenance operation.
Within five weeks of the airline’s announcement, and with the involvement of more than 20 rank-and-file delegates from Auckland and Christchurch, our own consultants and officials from both unions, we came up with the basis of a proposal that went substantially the way to making the savings that the airline wanted.
The union proposal centred on Auckland and wide-bodied aircraft maintenance, with a commitment over time to explore business-wide changes.
The unions’ proposal was enough by December 19 for the airline to want to talk further about the proposal as it affected aircraft maintenance. The same day, the airline announced that aero engine work would be contracted out.
During the negotiations that followed the December 19 announcement, the company made it clear that it wanted what it described as “across-the-board labour reform”, that is, changes in both Auckland and Christchurch.
The talks since have been arduous and have been held under pressure of time. The settlement reached on January 29 this year, still required further work. Nevertheless, a package was agreed to (details separately).
In taking the settlement out to the workforce, concerns expressed by Christchurch members included:
- The impact on incomes
- The flexibility arrangements causing too much uncertainty.
These concerns are perfectly understandable and legitimate.
So where does this ballot result leave us now?
The ball is now in the airline’s court.
Up to this point, the workforce has scored a major victory: we’ve turned around a management agenda for the wholesale contracting out of wide-body maintenance.
The airline should note the following:
In Auckland it has a workforce willing to make changes to keep this important work here.
In Christchurch, it has a workforce accepting of change, willing to be flexible and entitled to be finally convinced of the radical change being asked of them to their working and family lives.
The unions remain committed to sensible and fair arrangements to keep heavy aircraft maintenance in New Zealand.
We will now be talking to airline and the government about the next steps.