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Labour Government PM blames workers for job losses

Labour Government PM blames workers for job losses

Prime Minister Helen Clark has blamed the workers for refusing to accept the wage cuts and loss of conditions involved in the union-management deal that was negotiated to try and save half the 600 threatened Air New Zealand engineering jobs.

Alliance Co-leader Len Richards says it is scandalous that the Government, a majority-shareholder in the company, refused to intervene to overturn the decision to close the Air NZ heavy engineering maintenance workshops. Instead, Ms Clark has said she was disappointed that a “small majority” of workers rejected the brokered deal.

“The fact is hundreds of Air NZ workers voted down the deal which would have meant their shifts could be changed with little notice and their pay would be cut. Why should workers have to take cuts to save their own jobs?” Mr Richards says.

The Alliance says the loss of the engineering jobs is completely unnecessary.

"It is not about the engineering operation losing money. It is all about return on capital," Mr Richards says.

The heavy engineering workshops have been one of the main revenue earners for Air NZ for years. The projected savings from the workshops’ closure are only $20 million a year in a company that made a $250 million profit last year.

Mr Richards says it is the Government’s responsibility to stop the wanton economic vandalism threatened by Air NZ management.

"The loss of our country’s heavy aircraft repair capacity would be a major blow to our strategically important transport infrastructure. It is a matter of concern for all New Zealanders and should be top priority for this Labour Government.

“No jobs should go and no cuts should be made to workers’ pay and conditions. The Government must step in and take control of the situation.”

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