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Air NZ claims property rights over koru

Air NZ claims property rights over koru

Air NZ has threatened the unions representing its ground staff with breaches of its intellectual property rights over stickers opposing cuts in the workers' terms and conditions.

Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota Northern Region Secretary Jill Ovens says a letter sent by lawyers yesterday [28 November] on behalf of Air NZ is claiming the koru as "an iconic symbol associated exclusively with our client".

"I think tangata whenua might have something to say about the appropriation of Maori imagery, especially when the corporation is claiming exclusive rights," Ms Ovens says.

Air NZ is upset about a scissor design used in the joint EPMU/SFWU campaign calling on the company to immediately withdraw all proposals to contract out or outsource its workers.

The company is saying its preference is to keep the jobs in-house but to do so, it requires cuts in penal rates and allowances.

"If this is what Air NZ really wants, they should front up and put the company's claims on the table at the next negotiations," Ms Ovens says.

"We do not have to discuss our terms and conditions before our Collective Agreement expires in the middle of next year. Our members are clear. They are not giving away terms and conditions."

Ms Ovens says the Government bought into Air NZ because it is in the national interest to maintain control over our national airline - vital to the economy, tourism industry and to national security.

"We have a situation where management is ruthlessly attacking the pay and conditions of front-line staff by threatening to hand them over to an international outsourcing company. To do so will inevitably result in a loss of control."

Ms Ovens says it is ironic that the majority-owned airline is being run by management brought in to "slash and burn", at a time when Government is promoting a high-wage, high-skills economy.

The two unions [SFWU and EPMU] worked for months putting forward a "competitive in-house solution" to avoid airline services being contracting out.

"We proposed cost savings of $9.2 million. Air NZ dismissed these cost-savings suggestions without any real analysis. Our members participated in the review process in good faith and they took the company's dismissive attitude as a real slap in the face," Ms Ovens says.

END

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