February 24, 2006
Air NZ – don’t get it wrong again
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is challenging Air New Zealand’s latest round of jobs cuts, saying that it’s time the airline worked with its employees for the sake of everyone.
National secretary Andrew Little said that it was unbelievable that the company had today announced another 470 jobs would go, hard on the heels of the drama over contracting out engineering.
“Air New Zealand got that wrong, and it’s probably got this wrong too,” he said.
In October last year, the airline announced that it intended contracting overseas wide-body aircraft maintenance with the loss of 617 jobs. Unions analysed the company’s proposal and found that 300 jobs could be kept here, and last night voted to accept a new collective employment agreement that allowed the deal to go ahead.
Mr Little said that the airline appeared to have learnt nothing from the past four months.
“We had to muscle our way into the decision-making process over Air New Zealand Engineering Services, and we showed that we are capable of finding solutions that the company seems unable to come up with,” he said.
“Yet today Air New Zealand has unilaterally announced that it intends getting rid of 470 people in customer services, without so much as talking to them or their unions.”
The airline is also embroiled in a legal dispute with the EPMU over plans to contract out aircraft cleaning.
Mr Little said that the stakes were too high to allow Air New Zealand to get things wrong.
“All of us – workers, managers, the traveling public, exporters, shareholders and the Government – have a stake in this. Air New Zealand is a pivotal part of our economy and society, and we cannot afford to leave its future up to a handful of managers who might get it wrong again,” he said.
“Air New Zealand’s passenger numbers and yield are up, and the exchange rate is expected to fall, and we can see no justification for this latest round of job cuts.”
Mr Little said that he would be happy to convene a forum bringing Air New Zealand workers and their unions together with managers to discuss the issues facing the airline.