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Air NZ issues lockout notices to SFWU members

9 November 2007

Air NZ issues lockout notices to SFWU members

Air NZ has issued lockout notices for 107 Service and Food Workers members in airport services from 26 November through to 6 December, with a break for the weekend.

They have also issued notices for 21 SFWU members in cargo for the second week of the lockout (from 4-6 December).

SFWU members in finance, Holiday Stores and call centres have not been issued lockout notices.

SFWU Northern Region Secretary Jill Ovens said Air NZ was saying in the lockout notices that the only way union members can avoid the lockout is to agree to the company's offer of a three-year deal with major clawbacks.

She says the company's offer includes removal of extra shift allowances, removal of overtime rates after 8 hours work and double time for overtime for work after midnight and on weekends, and cutting meal allowances. The offer also includes a new pay scale and so-called "flexible" roster arrangements.

"This will cost our members up to $20,000 a year and they are not well paid in the first place.

"But worse than that, Air NZ is creating a part-time workforce of exploited young people who are lucky to get 20 hours a week or three hours a day of work. There are no minimums in the proposed hours of work.

"On top of that, they're expecting us to take an offer back that is for less money and a longer term than the other unions got."

Ms Ovens says the lockout notices have come at a very strange time, given that Air NZ is to present its case to the Employment Relations Authority next Wednesday on potential penalties of up to $2.69 million for breaches of good faith in its dealings with the SFWU.

"Yesterday we filed in the Authority for facilitated bargaining because the airline is trying to foist its all-or-nothing package on us. Later in the day we agreed to go to mediation through the Department of Labour, a lower level process. Here we are trying to find a way to get a settlement and the airline responds by locking us out. It is unbelievable."

In a determination about the right of new employees at airport services to join the SFWU and enjoy the benefits of the SFWU Collective Agreement, Authority member Alastair Dumbleton said Air NZ had misled new employees by telling them the CEA had expired.

"A collective agreement is the lifeblood of a union and its members. To represent incorrectly that the collective agreement is no longer effective is a serious and damaging misstatement," Mr Dumbleton said.

He ordered Air NZ to write to all employees who started since April to correct the misinformation.

In a second determination, the Authority found that Air NZ breached good faith requirements of the Employment Relations Act by:
* Going behind the union's back in writing to its members
* Inducing SFWU members to resign from their Union
* Suggesting our members could join a competitor union
* Interfering in the relations between a union and its members
* Undermining the role of the Union whose membership has chosen to belong, a freedom given to them under the Act
* Undermining the Collective Agreement - deliberately, just before bargaining was to begin, a serious breach

He said the breaches were compounded by the number of letters sent out to SFWU members - 269 by the airline's own admission.

Ms Ovens said that given that the maximum penalty is $10,000 per breach, the penalties could be considerable.

"Mr Dumbleton basically said to do the maths."


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