July 28, 2005
Strike by low-paid baggage handlers
Airline baggage handlers and cleaners who haven’t had a pay rise in two years will strike this weekend in frustration over their employer’s refusal to pay them a decent wage.
Some 80 workers from Menzies Aviation in Auckland will walk off the job from midnight on Friday until 6am on Monday. The company provides baggage handling and cleaning services to international airlines including Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Garuda and Pacific Blue.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union Auckland regional director Mike Sweeney said that the workers had stood by the company during difficult times and, now that times were better, wanted a fair pay packet.
“These people are earning around $14 an hour – some as little as $12.50 an hour. You try raising a family in Auckland on that,” he said.
Mr Sweeney said that the all the workers were seeking was market rates.
“We’re asking that a skilled baggage handler, with at least two years experience, for example, be paid $37,500 a year - and that’s less than they earn at Air New Zealand,” he said.
“The deal the company is offering would see that person paid $32,000 a year. That’s just not good enough.”
The company has indicated that it will get clerical staff to do the striking workers’ duties, but Mr Sweeney said that under the Employment Relations Act, it could not require them to do so.
Mr Sweeney said that the union would continue to try and resolve the dispute before the strike.
“We remain willing and available to return to the negotiating table today and tomorrow,” he said.