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Parties Positions On Sacking Of Air NZ Workers

Political Parties Positions On Sacking Of Air NZ Workers

Air New Zealand announced this week that it was proceeding with its plan to outsource wide body aircraft heavy maintenance. Around 507 ANZES positions will be made redundant on top of the 110 announced in December, when the decision was made to outsource wide body aero engine maintenance.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) and the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association (AMEA) had put up a plan that would save only half of the 600 jobs that would be lost if the engineering work was out-sourced off-shore. The majority of members in both unions were needed to approve the plans. Currently, the unions' plan, which would involve shift work and disruptions to workers weekends, has met resistance from members of the AMEA in Christchurch.

The Prime Minister has urged both parties to keep talking in an effort to save the jobs of the Air NZ engineers. Scoop contacted all political parties represented in Parliament and asked what (if anything) should be done regarding the Air NZ engineers jobs

Note: Air NZ is a listed public company in which the Government has a majority shareholding (around 82%). Air NZ is neither a Crown Owned Company or a State Owned Enterprise but exists in a unique position in regard to the Government having a majority shareholding and being a listed public company.


What The Parties Said About The Outsourcing OF Air NZ Engineering Jobs

NZ Government:Mr Trevor Mallard Labour Party MP for Hutt South - Mr Mallard is the Minister of Economic Development and Associate Minister of Finance

Mr Trevor Mallard did not contact Scoop directly regarding the Government's position on Air New Zealand's decision to move ahead with sacking parts of its New Zealand workforce and outsourcing their jobs to overseas companies. A spokesperson for Mr Mallard did however point to what he has said in the House (21/02/06) on the subject.

"I would hope that the airline and unions talk further, but as a matter of policy I, as shareholding Minister, do not intervene in the operational affairs of the airline."


National: Dr Wayne Mapp Spokesman for Industrial Relations

"National believes that the small minority of workers who voted against the proposal need to rethink their position. The Labour Government could deal with some pressing issues which are increasing Air New Zealand’s costs, including the Holidays Act and other legislation such as the Flexible Working Hours bill. Air New Zealand submitted that the Holidays Act amendments (but not the four weeks issue) have added several million dollars to their costs.

The Treasury Briefing to the Incoming Government stated that the adverse effects of the labour law reforms would have substantial cumulative effects “particularly in an economic downturn” (pg 26). It is time the government got to grips with the fact that their laws have made New Zealand business uncompetitive."


NZ First: Deputy Leader Peter Brown

"We believe that any owner of a business with an 82% shareholding should take a more hands on approach to it. We believe there is an obligation on the government to look at how Air New Zealand is operating and the difficulties they are facing.

I think,[it would be good] if we could get the Minister to sit down at a table with a view to saying, 'look the taxpayer owns this, or very largely owns this organisation, and it is not acceptable that we dispense with the engineers knowing that on a world wide basis there's a shortage [of engineers]'.

There are also concerns about contracting out to overseas organisations. We would like the Government to take a more 'hands on' approach to getting specific details. People that travel by air want to know they've got a damn good pilot, a damn good plane and that it is very well maintained. I don't want to put any safety scares into this issue - but you know when you are doing the maintenance at home you have control of the situation."


Green Party: Sue Bradford - Spokesperson for Industrial Relations

"The Green Party believes that the Government, as the majority shareholder in Air NZ at 82%, should be proactive in ensuring that the company takes a strategic direction which keeps jobs and core engineering services in New Zealand."

United Future: Gordon Copeland spokesperson for Economic Development

"United Future's policy is to sell 40% of Air NZ to New Zealand based investors. There would probably be a cap so that no more than 10% of shares could migrate into overseas ownership. That model would mean that Air NZ would revert to being a conventional public company.

[Air NZ] would be governed by a board elected by its shareholders, and it would not any longer be subject to political interference. The board and shareholders of Air NZ would make decisions relating to these sorts of matters in the usual way. I don't see it as useful for politicians to be trying to second-guess aspect of a company's operation."

The Maori Party: Tariana Turia Leader - Statement from October 2005

Scoop understands the sacking of hundreds of Air NZ workers so that their jobs can be out-sourced to Europe and Asia is a matter of some discussion within the Maori Party. A spokesperson for the Maori Party alerted Scoop to a press release from late last year. An update on the Maori Party's position however was not available prior to publication.

“All New Zealanders will feel the impact of this decision, as 600 families are laid off, in preference for cheaper workers in Asia and Europe”.

“There are huge questions to be asked about :

  • the decision to turn to the global market rather than retaining local expertise;

  • what impact this decision will have on safety and standards of aircraft maintenance; and

  • why Air New Zealand – and its majority shareholder – have allowed the company to get to such a state that it expects profit to fall by more than half in the 2006 year” said Mrs Turia.
  • *********

    ACT: Heather Roy MP

    "Air New Zealand is a private company and as such should be run as a commercial entity no matter who its major shareholder is. For Helen Clark to be giving instructions to the company and to the unions is totally inappropriate. This is an operational matter between the company and the associated unions and any government interference is unacceptable."


    Progressive Party – Jim Anderton Leader - Mr Anderton is also a Minister in the current Labour-Progressive Government

    "The Progressive Party wants the engineering skills and capacity to stay in New Zealand. Progressive hopes that the negative vote passed by one section of the aircraft engineering workforce will be re-visited with a positive outcome so that jobs are saved in both Auckland and Christchurch for the good of the current and future engineering workforce in New Zealand."


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