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COVID-19: Aviation Workers Under Unprecedented Pressure

E tū is preparing for a scale of disruption to the aviation industry unlike anything we’ve witnessed before, after the Prime Minister’s announcement this afternoon that all people arriving in New Zealand will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, ensuring a massive hit to the aviation industry.

“Today’s unprecedented announcement will test aviation workers like never before as the whole industry scales back its operations in response,” says Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation.

“As New Zealand’s largest aviation union, we have close to 8000 members all over New Zealand. We have implemented a comprehensive plan to ensure union members and their workplace leaders are supported and can get the information they need. We have already been involved in talks and negotiations with multiple employers. That work will escalate in the weeks ahead as employers begin consulting employees about what the shutdowns mean in their sector.

“It is not just international flying. The flow on effects into domestic and regional networks will be huge. Thousands of workers and their families will be affected as cabin crew, caterers, aviation security, customs, airport workers, engineers, ground handlers, refuellers, and cargo workers see a massive drop off in work. Workers risk redundancies if these hard measures carry on too long.

“The Government’s commitment to supporting the Aviation industry will be vital. Aviation is a life blood industry. It must be supported and ready to rebound soon as the restrictions finish. Aviation workers are skilled workers with high security clearance – the industry cannot afford to lose their skills and workers must remain ready to take off again as soon as possible.

“Flying itself is still safe. New Zealanders should take advantage of the low fares on offer and explore New Zealand.”

Savage says that it’s not just aviation members who will be affected by today’s decision.

“As the largest private sector union in New Zealand, with over 53,000 members, we represent people across many industries that will be affected by this decision, particularly in hospitality and tourism. That’s on top of the thousands of members in healthcare, such as workers in aged care and hospitals, who are already grappling with this.

“Unions are all about maximising mutual cooperation and collective support - values important to all Kiwis. Now more than ever it is time for New Zealanders to rally around and look after each other. Especially those who are most vulnerable.”

ENDS

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