“Project Choice” – foisting bad faith

Written By: - Date published: 10:09 am, May 17th, 2013 - 55 comments
Categories: employment, jobs, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Air NZ has recently posted a $138 million profit, successfully turning around losses of $1 million a week in its international airline with its award winning financial strategies, innovative marketing and outstanding service. It now forecasts that it will double that profit in the next financial year, and is offering an attractive investment for the sale of shares in the near future.

Air NZ’s Domestic and International flight attendants are a unionised workforce, and 95% of them belong to the Flight Attendants and Related Services Association (FARSA). FARSA has for many years achieved and protected reasonable pay scales and working conditions that allow adequate rest and recovery from the rigours of shift work, time zone changes and aircraft pressure differentials for its members.

Air NZ owns a subsidiary company called Air NZ Tasman Pacific Ltd which is an employment contracting company. TasPac (as it is known) employs flight attendants to operate trans Tasman and Pacific island routes. These flight attendants also have a heavy union density with the members belonging to two separate unions, the EPMU and FARSA.

The terms and conditions under which the Tasman Pacific crew work are significantly less than their colleagues at Air NZ and it is generally accepted that the conditions they work under are more arduous because they do not have the historical protections that Air NZ crew have negotiated over the years into their CEA. The rest and recovery provisions which have been developed over the last 40 years by FARSA to ensure the safety of the travelling public, do not apply in TasPac.

On 17 April 2013 Air NZ (as part of their ‘Go Beyond’ strategy) announced “Project Choice” as a way to reduce the labour costs of the flight attendant workforce by 20%. The method being used is to shift the work to another company (Tasman Pacific) as part of the group and advise workers that they can choose to have a job with that entity. This deliberately places staff in an insecure position. If staff stay with Air New Zealand under the collective agreement they risk being made redundant in the future. If they choose to go to Tasman Pacific then they lose their current entitlements.

No redundancy package is being offered to Domestic or International flight attendants, but no permanent appointments will be made into those divisions in the future, so through natural attrition they will gradually over time disappear. It is likely that at some stage those who remain will be forced to move to the new division or leave, as the short-haul and long-haul work will no longer be viable for the airline to continue running.

There was no consultation with the unions prior to the announcement of Project Choice as required both by law and by the terms of the employment contracts agreed within the last few months. One of the contracts had been ratified as recently as March 2013, yet no indication was given of the looming introduction of Project Choice. The rate of implementation for Project Choice has been so rapid that flight attendants are being asked to make significant and hasty decisions about their futures based on very little information. Apart from some generic FAQs, there was little information upon which to make decisions and no copy of the contract the crew would be working under at [the as yet unnamed new division] was available before the closing date.

Staff at TasPac are being offered exciting new ‘opportunities’ at the new wide body division, and many of them are signing up for the new destinations and the glamour of being an ‘international flight attendant’. Air NZ is exploiting their enthusiasm, inexperience and lack of knowledge to drive down the working conditions for the whole industry in New Zealand.

Air NZ has a reputation for outstanding safety and service and should be proud to recognise its staff with fair and reasonable wages and conditions. It should be holding them up as an inspiration to the rest of the industry to aspire to, not dragging them down to the lowest common denominator in the quest for bigger profits, while customers see no reduction in the fares that they are charged. If the airline is allowed to push this through in direct contradiction of the objects of the Employment Relations Act, other corporates will surely do the same in their industries and New Zealand’s economy will suffer as a result.

55 comments on ““Project Choice” – foisting bad faith”

  1. karol 1

    From the post:

    If the airline is allowed to push this through in direct contradiction of the objects of the Employment Relations Act, other corporates will surely do the same in their industries and New Zealand’s economy will suffer as a result.

    So presumably it is the government that is “allowing” the breach of the Employment Relations Act? How is it possible they can do this?

    Hope FARSA can successfully oppose this very dodgy move by AirNZ.

    • Robert 1.1

      “Hope FARSA can successfully oppose this very dodgy move by AirNZ.”

      FARSA will never oppose this move by Air New Zealand. It hasn’t yet and its members are leaving their Air New Zealand contract in droves to sign up for this “exciting opportunity”.

      FARSA has a history of working to undermine its members. A recent example is when the union agreed to a variation in the International CEA in order for the company to make 36 flight attendants redundant. This was done without so much as notifying its membership much less ratifying a change to the CEA. Just a couple of meetings with management and presto – a change to the CEA with a lifespan coinciding directly with the time it took to finalise the redundancy process.

      That said, virtually none of its members have challenged this. They’re sitting back waiting for someone else to do something or more likely not caring because it didn’t affect them personally. “Are you sure you want to rock the boat?” is the question FARSA asks its members when they seek representation on issues of unfairness. Clearly they do not.

      So in short Karol, your hope will never come true thanks to apathy, laziness and selfish willingness to do what works best for oneself now without considering the long-term impacts. As Air New Zealand would say: “it’s all about being uniquely Kiwi”.

      Air New Zealand has had this in the pipeline for years (distracting the public and its employees with YouTube videos and other stunts) while FARSA (its members included) has largely done nothing to stop it. Those that have tried have now involuntarily moved on from the airline and the union.

      ….all the best with your future endeavours.

      • Union Member 1.1.1

        Really Robert ?

        What are your comments based on because clearly it is not on fact or actual information. Can you explain the “variation to the International CEA” to enable those redundancies? I am guessing not – because it didnt happen. You mention changes to the CEA – none occured; no changes were ever made. There was nothing to ratify.

        Are you one of those who believes if they disseminate their own views and opinion long enough that it will be accepted as fact? I am happy to provide any details about the redundancy as I was intimately affected by it, and am guessing I have a far greater knowledge and understanding of what took place than you do.

        You say Air NZ has had this in the pipeline for years and I agree – that is more than likely true. But tell me – you criticise their Union for doing nothing – how would propose to stop something that there is no apparent plan for that you can actually challenge, there is constant denial that it is their intention, and as you say is at odds with the ERA? They can try and have actions ready to initiate (and I understand that there are already leagal actions filed) but until something is actually done by the company what real remedies can be sought?

        I’m sure the Employment Court would look kindly on an action filed to stop an employer doing something that the Union is sure they are thinking of, but has no actual evidence or documents to present in support of their belief – even if they “know” its going to happen.

        • Jacky 1.1.1.1

          [14] I find that FARSA concurred with ANZ in making a variation to the particular criteria that are expressed in the redundancy provisions of the CEA at clause 19.3.

          [15] Had that not been so, Ms Jamieson’s case would have been a strong one

          [19] It is clear from the variation to the selection criteria produced under clause 19.3 that Ms Jamieson was not given credit for her long service as a flight attendant in ANZ’s domestic operations.

          [21] The consent of the union to the change in the selection criteria is also confirmed by a notice FARSA sent out to its members about the redundancy in early 2009. It is clear from the notice that FARSA gave at least tacit consent to the proposals ANZ had consulted the union about.

          [22] Even if not expressed in the notice, the agreement of FARSA can be inferred from the way the union described in writing its participation in the consultation process. It is understandable why the union in its newsletters to members might not have wanted to say outright that it had agreed to a variation, but this is clearly the effect of its involvement and the statement by it of the selection criteria settled upon following consultation by ANZ.

          Glenda Maree Jamieson and Air New Zealand Limited
          Employment Relations Authority AA 387/09 5157509

        • Robert 1.1.1.2

          Thanks Union Member.

          Here are the facts and actual information you are looking for. The following paragraphs are from the ERA determination Glenda Jamieson vs Air New Zealand. The salient points are between the **X**
          ==========
          [14] **I find that FARSA concurred with ANZ in making a variation to the particular criteria that are expressed in the redundancy provisions of the CEA at clause 19.3.***

          […]

          [19] It is clear from the **variation to the selection criteria produced under clause 19.3** that Ms Jamieson was not given credit for her long service as a flight attendant in ANZ’s domestic operations.

          [21] **The consent of the union to the change in the selection criteria** is also confirmed by a notice FARSA sent out to its members about the redundancy in early 2009. It is clear from the notice that **FARSA gave at least tacit consent to the proposals ANZ had consulted the union about.**

          [22] Even if not expressed in the notice, **the agreement of FARSA** can be inferred from the way the union described in writing its participation in the consultation process. **It is understandable why the union in its newsletters to members might not have wanted to say outright that it had agreed to a variation,** but this is clearly the effect of its involvement and the statement by it of the selection criteria settled upon following consultation by ANZ.
          ==========

          My apologies for not including the “facts and actual information” in my previous post.

          Kind Regards

          Robert

          • Lorraine 1.1.1.2.1

            This is a total abomination! As a person with a keen interest in unions and industrial relations this reeks of corruption. I can only assume there was some kind of back door deal going on here. Why else would the union do this? It makes no sense.

            In the pars above, Robert, the ERA seems to have found that FARSA indeed agreed to alter CEA’s redundancy clause to make that member redundant. I presume she was part of the group of redundant employees you referred to.

            I’ve just read through the determination online and the ERA member is saying outright that Air New Zealand and FARSA had been in talks, FARSA agreed to alter the redundancy clause in the CEA. But FARSA didn’t notify the membership that the change had taken place. Why did none of the members say anything at the time? I’d love to see the communication that went out to the members about this.

            The members should call for an independent investigation as to why this has been allowed to take place. The CTU must be informed about this – not that the CTU has the best track record of transparency and action.

            • MX 1.1.1.2.1.1

              All too easy to take details out of context to present a distorted view of the events, rewriting history.

              Did anyone mention that Glenda Jamieson did not ask for FARSA to be involved in her challenge? Therefore important evidence was omitted which would have shown that there was a clear understanding between Air NZ and the union that there was NO variation but strict adherence to the redundancy clauses. The determination simply got that facts wrong by not dealing with the SMEs on the relevant contract and I note there was no challenge to the Employment Court. I understand this was because the affected party accepted that the invention of the variation enabled the decision maker not having to further look into the case
              As stated before, there will always be people unhappy with their particular outcome of a case and then direct their anger and energy to the wrong place.

              But once again, this is not a constructive use of this forum and this is not about anyone’s personal gripe but a nationwide and important issue that some seem to deem less important than their individual complaints.

              • WHY

                One has to wonder why Robert, Lorraine, Jacky and Stef appear to have ignored the subject here and instead have gone off on a tangent to rant about something totally unrelated. Their comments smack of collusion as they use this forum to pursue what is apparently a personal, vitriolic vendetta against FARSA rather than focusing on the real issue.
                Such a shame that a few losers have tried to hijack this column for their own self-interest in lieu of joining those who are truly concerned with the huge implications of what is happening on the industrial front that could ultimately have a ripple -on effect for a large percentage of workers throughout the country.
                Flight attendants are at the metaphoric coal face, having to work long hours at altitude dealing with stressed passengers under trying circumstances. It is not the glamour job people envisage and they forget the primary role of crew is for safety in emergencies. Instead, they tend to judge their ‘airline experience’ by the service they receive on board. Credit must go to the crew who have assisted the airline in winning awards for the latter and deserve to have their efforts recognised, especially as part of the staff who have been instrumental in helping to achieve the recent high profits.
                They are therefore understandably upset to suddenly find a new division is being established to do their work because the current crew are now considered “too expensive” compared with their (budget airline?) competitors, especially as all terms and conditions of their employment have been negotiated with a management one expects to have the integrity to honour all Agreements.
                Of course good profit is important, but how much should it be at the expense of the workers? The general public and shareholders surely would not condone such treatment of staff by the decision-makers of a business that is allegedly the one voted by aspiring employees to be the one “most attractive” to work for in NZ. (Please note I said “aspiring”. Those actually employed may well have a different view.)
                If such an iconic firm is able to do this, what chance is there for workers throughout the country as other employers follow suit?
                Cabin crew recognise the need to fight against any insidious undermining of their health and safety protections which have been achieved through fair bargaining over the years. It is understood the new division will realise substantial cost savings by not incorporating many of these protections into the new contracts.
                Contrary to the derogatory comments posted here- probably by former members who benefited from such achievements when they were flying- FARSA members have faith in their union, and know their reps will continue striving to fight against any degeneration of their working conditions. It is also great to see the mighty EPMU and other unions standing alongside FARSA and giving their support.
                Take heed…your job could be next.

                • Te Reo Putake

                  Nicely put, WHY. Having read the comments of Robert etc. I have some doubts about their complaints, not the least because any variation to a CEA must be voted on by the affected workers and the court judgement cited doesn’t challenge the validity of the variation. That says to me that Jamieson and the others would also have been part of the process and had a vote on whether or not the variation was ratified. Not liking the outcome is not the same thing as having a genuine complaint.

                  AirNZ have been trying this sort of thing on for years; it’s not that different from the discriminatory employment conditions they tried to force on TEAL workers a few years ago, by pretending that they were not really part of the AirNZ ‘family’. It’s a continuation of a union busting, low wage culture. It’s bullying via economic power.

              • Lorraine

                [20] I accept the uncontradicted evidence given by Mr Alan Gaskin, General Manager of ANZ’s International Airline Cabin Crew, about the selection process and criteria applied to the 39 enforced redundancies. His evidence was supported by an email sent on 9 January 2009 to him by the Acting President of FARSA

                Glenda Maree Jamieson and Air New Zealand Limited
                Employment Relations Authority AA 387/09 5157509

                http://dol.govt.nz/workplace/determinations/FullSummary.aspx?ID=26966207

                • Te Reo Putake

                  What’s your point, Lorraine? Did the affected workers get a vote or not? And if not, what did they do about it?

                  (and a correction, ZEAL, not TEAL, in my comment above. One coffee was obviously not enough).

                  • Anonymousnous

                    As a current flight attendant I am not able to reveal my identity on forum such as this. This would be a risk to my job. I hope other posters will respect this. MX, you understand what I’m saying.

                    To reply to you Te Reo Putake, no we never voted on variation to the agreement. The first I heard about it was on here. Our current CEA has a “last on, first off” redundancy clause, nothing like what was used to make the 36/39 crew redundant. To make it clear, there was no vote.

                    Regardless of whether Ms Jamieson used FARSA or not, if the CEA was altered this is concerning and it is understandable why she would have sought outside legal advice and not the advice of the people that would have been conflicted to represent her.

                    The reason this historic issue is concerning to me as current F/A affected by the project choice is that if FARSA has done this to their members before, perhaps they’re doing it again. I haven’t read the determinations being quoted here, but if the quotes are accurate, then this is VERY concerning.

                    Te Reo Putake
                    Q: “Did the affected workers get a vote or not?”
                    A: No they did not.

                    Te Reo Putake
                    Q: “And if not, what did they do about it?”
                    A: Nothing as far as I know. This is the first I’m hearing about it so presume it was kept hush-hush. That’s no excuse though. It’s our own fault for not keeping an eye on what was going on.

                    I hope it’s not too late to investigate this.

                    • I shouldn't either...

                      But I am also a current Air NZ employee who can’t identify themselves for fear of loosing my job.

                      Having read the above post I am really concerned about the conduct of both the Airline and FARSA. If I do take up an ‘exiting opportunity’ I have to admit I will be weighing my current union membership up against what the EPMU offers.

                      Way too scary to think FARSA has in the past varied a CEA without membership consent and it lead to those redundancies. This issue needs to be investigated and talked about openly! If we don’t take up these ‘exciting opportunities’ we could also be facing redundancy, and I don’t know if I want representation from a union that agreed to it in the past.

                  • nolan

                    i’ve looked at that document now and there was NO VOTE Farsa just changed it without a vote or telling anyone after AirNZ asked them to! Remember Farsa’s scab concierges and short haul 320 scabs crossed the picket line and did EPMU jobs while EPMU people went without pay. Karma Farsa.

                    • MX

                      Just for the record to correctly reflect history here:
                      FARSA at the time of the Zeal strike did not represent concierges.
                      In solidarity with the striking workers – FARSA went to the ERA under urgency to get a determination that the domestic A320 crew represented by FARSA could NOT be compelled to be used as replacement labour and used to do the work of a striking worker.
                      FARSA then instructed its domestic crew that they were not to be doing this work.
                      No FARSA domestic crew were forced to cross the picket line and none did the job the EPMU workers were striking for.
                      As with previous posts – just saying it is so doesn’t make it so.
                      Stick to the facts.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    Thanks, anon and nolan. I’ve since learned that what changed was the selection criteria. I understand that the CEA had an option to allow for a more focussed selection criteria than ‘last on, first off’. Selections based on merit (or lack of) are preferred these days, so I’m not surprised that the change was made.

                    I haven’t seen the wording of the clause, but clearly it allowed for change without a vote of the union members, or else the authority member’s decision would have acknowleged that the change was not lawful. Instead, the member notes that:

                    “[10] ANZ’s response to Ms Jamieson’s claims is that the selection of her position
                    for redundancy was made in accordance with a particular provision of her
                    employment agreement which allowed for a variation of the selection criteria written in the agreement.”

                    I imagine that was FARSA’s position as well.

                    So that’s a variation in the sense of a choice available within the CEA, not a variation in the sense of a change to the CEA itself. The latter requires a vote, the former doesn’t.

                    Having said all that, given that the workers have a choice of union, perhaps that may be the way to go in future? I’m told that the EPMU is pretty on to it.

                    • charlotte

                      .

                      “I understand that the CEA had an option to allow for a more focussed selection criteria than ‘last on, first off’.”

                      No it didn’t.

                      Read it for yourself everyone:

                      http://dol.govt.nz/workplace/determinations/FullSummary.aspx?ID=26966207

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      That’s not the CEA, Charlotte.

                    • nolan

                      MX why haven’t you pasted the determination you say Farsa went to the ERA under urgency to get, and why are you saying Farsa had no concierge members when it always has. Why haven’t you pasted the supposed instruction Farsa gave to it’s DOMESTIC crew during the Epmu strike, because what you haven’t talked about is FARSA GIVING PERMISSION to its Taspac INTERNATIONAL members to cross the Epmu picket line wearing a white ribbon. Next you’ll be telling everyone you’ve had a big feedback meeting and hired a lawyer from wellington to protect your union from its members.

        • Louise Greenberg 1.1.1.3

          Hi Union Member

          Thanks so much for challenging Robert on this issue. I too was sceptical about his allegations. I’ve now read the determination in question and was flabbergasted to say the least.

          As others have pointed out FARSA and Air New Zealand changed the agreement around redundancy and didn’t notify the members. What kind of union does this? This was actually given in evidence by FARSA itself – plain as day! There’s no way they can back out of that one.

          You say you were “intimately affected” by the redundancy. I may be being presumptuous but if you were in fact one of the unfortunate redundant crew, you would have a real leg to stand on to get your job back if that’s what you wanted.

          If this represents what FARSA are really like then I have no doubt there in on this “project choice” while trying to maintain a perception to the contrary. If they weren’t they would have filed an injunction to stop Air New Zealand doing what they’re doing.

          What do you think Union Member? Has Robert missed anything? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

          Cheers
          Lou

      • Padma 1.1.2

        Dr Phil has advice about cheaters. He says the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. If FARSA has cheated on its members in the past and won’t admit it (all cheaters lie), then what are the chances of FARSA doing that again? Pretty high I’d say. In fact, with all the spin about Project Choice in the article above it makes me think they already might have come to an arrangement with AirNZ, and are spinning at The Standard to stop their members finding out until it’s too late – just like last time. Well done Robert and Jacky in finding that incriminating determination.

        • MX 1.1.2.1

          As copied and pasted from another blog site where a similar move to detract from the real issues was taking place:

          “It seems that a few very vocal detractors have now negatively affected the communication channels for the masses, and that is truly a shame. As I look back through some of the forum postings of the past week, there are actually more that are offering positive input and approval as opposed to a small minority that voiced pointed objections.”

          Think about this – why would these blogger try and shift the attention to their personal and historic complaints… in whose interest is it that the focus is not on the future but on the past and the attention is taken away from the core subject…

          This is about the government’s drive for cheaper labour and the way a big corporation is attempting to precede proposed law changes and address issues outside of accepted and established practices, the honouring of collective agreements …

          • WHY 1.1.2.1.1

            Utterly agree. Ignore these pathetic attempts to de-rail such an important issue. The more they post their venom the more they discredit themselves. One quotes Dr Phil to try to substantiate his/her argument….that says it all!
            It’s obvious the union IS fighting back, and this irks those who want to see the defence fail.
            No doubt this comment will be met with a raft of protestations and more vitriol, but one can’t help but wonder if the antagonists are perhaps nervous management trying to subvert the real message here. Yawn.
            Get back on the subject and stop wasting everyone’s time!

  2. georgecom 2

    If Air NZ genuinely had to cut staff entitlements I expect they would do it through the process of negotiations. A genuine up front company would negotiate in a genuine up front way. They would make a claim in bargaining that reflects their needs and seek to negotiate a settlement that, subject to acceptable reciprocation for the workforce, achieves their needs.

    Why then this seemingly rubbish of transferring employment to a different entity, establishing a seperate entity to employ staff. Sure, that may be industrial relations in a neo-liberalised 21 century but it falls short of what I would expect a proud and straight up company to do.

    The Air NZ spin seemingly prides itself on being a decent company with a premium reputation. Why not premium negotiations with a decent and up front set of claims. Why spin a public perception of being all about NZ and then act like any other greedy profit maximising multinational.

    If profits are under threat table that at bargaining and seek to negotiate a solution face on with your workforce. Don’t bother trying to take the creative, slippery HR approach. To me it makes them look like two faced pricks, rather than a genuine company.

  3. georgecom 3

    The Air NZ approach highlights well some of the HR rubbish currently in vogue within Industrial Relations.

    On one had staff are held up as an asset, they should all be proud of what they do, the profit they generate, they are the company and should identify with it, without them the company is nothing, the neo-liberal spin that they are consumers etc etc.

    Then suddenly on the other hand they are a commodity, something that is a threat to profit that must be managed, out sourced or have their employment transferred.

    Despite all the spin and bollocks about being part of a ‘team’ etc etc, the market comes along and reminds workers that they are simply a commodity.

    Are your actions legal Air NZ? If you followed proper process, most likely. In accordance with the public gloss and nice HR philosophies you apply? No.

    Slippery and disingenuous most likely. A genuine company would, as per above, front up to their employees and explain how they are a threat to profit and seek to negotiate face on with them.

    From https://careers.airnz.co.nz/home
    “Air New Zealand is one of the world’s leading airlines, known around the world, not just for our name and our innovation but also for our reputation. We are recognised as “New Zealand’s Most Reputable Organisation…At Air New Zealand, we are all about people. Ambitious, helpful, proud, down-to-earth, caring people…Is about sharing the spirit of Air New Zealand, wherever we are in the world. Being part of a team that loves our place and our airline. Sharing our passions with our customers.”

    FARSA v farce

  4. tc 4

    I know a few cabin staff that got out of this nasty developing situation by taking ground based roles after seeing how ANZ was employing cheaper crews under offshore entities some years back.

    They ended up being flogged even harder doing hours that made long haul look like a picnic with the ‘make it happen’ and ‘ go the extra distance’ type mantra that’s so in vogue now to mask the whipping senior management dish out.

    The brand loyalty they had was a binding force ANZ relied upon, they weed out the disloyal ones real quick.

  5. RedBlooded 5

    Thank you for covering this issue, would love to comment if it wasn’t against AirNZ employment conditions.

    • Andy 5.1

      Just do it anyway! With 11000 employees, they might not know its you.

      • Red Blooded 5.1.1

        Hi Andy. You say you worked for the company for 10 months. I have worked for them for 33 years and want to continue to so will not break my employment contract by discussing it here. Glad that others who can comment, are though. Sorry you had a bad experience and sorry you hadn’t joined a union. Tough going through these things alone.

  6. RedBaronCV 6

    Playing one section of their employees off against another . After Nact, go amend the rules so that employees of a wholly owned subsidiary are deemed to be employees of the Parent company but only under a certain wage level.

    Then use this wonderful idea to create a susidiary labeled something like “Departure lounge” and employees, board members, executives etc above a certain wage level can have their employment transfered into this company which strips them of their entitlements before they are made redundant thereby avoiding any golden payouts.

    Perhaps a practice run on the board members and executives of the Power Companies? Do their “benefits” shares etc vest before or after the next election. Let’s hope it’s after so we can get the money back as they go out the door.

  7. aspasia 7

    This is a really serious situation and one which even a highly unionised work force may not be able to resist. The Ports of Auckland tried this on with MUNZ in the previous bargaining round before their big push last year and lost in the courts.
    Employment Court decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

    Air NZ is also trying to force cuts in terms and conditions that it could not get through bargaining on a workforce which cannot take industrial action because it has a current collective. But by channelling all the Air NZ work through a different legal entity (Taspac) the employer may gradually make all the remaining collectivised workers effectively redundant with no compensation. This is being done by a highly placed executive who was recently in the PM ‘s department and is being closely co-ordinated with the Beehive. It is a test run for union bashing of the remaining collectivised workforce when the amendments to the Employment Relations Act come in to force. FARSA is tactically a good first target because they are a small union and their members seem to be in a “glamour” job so there is not likely to be massive public sympathy. We need to make sure that Air NZ does not succeed in this, especially since the motivation is to maximise dividends in advance of its further sell down. Air NZ staff are completely muzzled so please use your networks to distribute ths information since it will not play well in the MSM.

  8. prism 8

    This is not an encouraging sign for NZ citizens from the new CEO Christopher Luxon who is a Christchurch boy who has gone bald managing Unilever in Canada. Not an airline oriented guy except as a client in the business sector.

    There have been discrepancies between Australian and NZ staff wages in the past few years. Is this similar, a progression, or a sharp kick to the butts of most staff?

    This treatment of staff seems to fit into the general management behaviour of vast businesses. As pointed out in the blog, this has not been done according to legal requirements. Is this why John Palmer and the Board didn’t employ from within the company? And now to think that we would put our airline in jeopardy by selling a bigger stake. It’s the sort of arid thinking that the right-wing goons in government would think is good business.

    It is likely that at some stage those who remain (outside the Tasman-Pacific section) will be forced to move to the new division or leave, as the short-haul and long-haul work will no longer be viable for the airline to continue running.

    Rob Fyfe left in December 2012.
    Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe leaves the company at the end of this month after his tenure at the top of an airline that has weathered well some of the most tumultuous years in aviation.
    Fyfe has been boss for seven years and profits during the past year beat expectations as other airlines – notably Qantas in this region – faltered in a tough market with soft demand and continued high fuel prices.

    Air New Zealand’s new chief executive has leap-frogged other internal candidates to take the top job.
    Christchurch-born Christopher Luxon will take over from current chief executive Rob Fyfe at the end of December.

    Luxon joined Air New Zealand in May 2011 from Unilever where he was president and CEO of Unilever Canada since December 2008.
    In this role he was responsible for leading Unilever’s US$1.4 billion business and 1500 employees in Canada. Christopher led Unilever Canada on a major change programme.
    He holds a Master in Commerce majoring in Business Administration at Canterbury University.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10814007

  9. RedBaronCV 9

    Would they not be better off to pitch themselves as a reasonably green and ethical airline ( yes I know airlines aren’t green as such!) and include in that posistion reasonable staff wages. I try to vote with my wallet where I can afford to and I’m not the only one judging by how empty the BP forecourts were during the GOM oil leak.

  10. Murray Olsen 10

    How about doing an informal work to rule on business and first class? Even with the travel, flight attendant is hardly a glamour job anyway. Too many of the wealthier passengers think they have a personal man or lady servant for the trip and fall into Aaron Gilmore impersonations.
    I already stopped flying QANTAS because of a lockout by imported management. I’d be happy to do the same with Air NZ if they keep this up.

  11. Colonial Viper 11

    Crappy NZ executive management led by crappy NZ politicians. Let’s see how many sleepy Hobbits make it out of this place.

    • AH 11.1

      I was an employee for Air NZ for a year on a fixed term contract into TasPac.

      I was initially on a 30 day collective agreement but never chose to joining FARSA or EMPU. This should have been reissued another contract by Air New Zealand as part of a private agreement.

      Instead they did not do this. Effectively I flew as cabin crew for them for 10 months without the benefit and security of a contract. If the plane had gone down I’d not have been given compensation etc.

      At the end, I failed to report for duty, and was dismissed as a result. My work ethic going over the 11 months was fantastic. Hadn’t never been late. Great remarks from managers and passengers.

      Didnt even get a letter of warning.

      Went to seek legal advice. Tried to go to mediation. Air NZ refused. So I have up. A grand out if pocket, no job. Because it was like 1 soldier fighting an entire army

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        You should’ve lodged a personal grievance and taken them to employment court. Given that they followed no due process you would probably have got a nice little payout + costs.

  12. Andy 12

    I was an employee for Air NZ for a year on a fixed term contract into TasPac.

    I was initially on a 30 day collective agreement but never chose to joining FARSA or EMPU. This should have been reissued another contract by Air New Zealand as part of a private agreement.

    Instead they did not do this. Effectively I flew as cabin crew for them for 10 months without the benefit and security of a contract. If the plane had gone down I’d not have been given compensation etc.

    At the end, I failed to report for duty, and was dismissed as a result. My work ethic going over the 11 months was fantastic. Hadn’t never been late. Great remarks from managers and passengers.

    Didnt even get a letter of warning.

    Went to seek legal advice. Tried to go to mediation. Air NZ refused. So I have up. A grand out if pocket, no job. Because it was like 1 soldier fighting an entire army

    • prism 12.1

      Andy & AH
      You have the same icon. The email is duplicated. If you are writing as an individual don’t try to multiply it. If you aren’t writing about your own experience say so and give us an example of the sort of thing that can happen. But when you start fiddling around with the comment system it only takes away the appearance of truth and no-one knows whether the comment and supposed facts are believable and whether you are commenting in good faith.

    • Kim 12.2

      Hi andy i absolutely understand where you have been with these assholes in air New Zealand but hey air New Zealand has a mountain of money in there legal department that no one can compete with and air New Zealand knows it and always has work like that the little people get shit on. I want to fight them they keep delaying my meetings knowing i could lose my house they don’t care there is no such thing as a fair fight with this company. They have a way of shutting people up. Just to save face. Oh yeah they will never apologise for it and never will. Sorry to hear that another good hard worker got shit on by this company. People need to expose this company for who they are. Bullies

  13. Union Member 13

    Andy thats really sad to hear but not that uncommon.

    Thats why people join Unions in the first place – to take that challenge for them if treated badly or unfairly by an employer.

  14. Stef 14

    People need to be careful joining FARSA!

    I know a ex-member who found them to be a most ineffective organisation, they appear to be more interested in collecting membership fees and protecting their cushy relationship with Air New Zealand.
    Instead of actually putting their members needs first, they can be seen running around in circular motions like a bunch of chickens who have lost their heads!

    All members need to hold the governing body of FARSA to account. The question needs to be asked as to why they didn’t alert and inform their members this was happening until it was too late.

    Also, who are FARSA there for? Air New Zealand or the members? Save your union fees for the lawyer you will need to employ later!

    Weak and useless.

    • Murray Olsen 14.1

      I like the odds of building a more militant union better than the odds of getting a decent outcome from a lawyer on an individual basis. That’s what the Tories want us to do – pay them so we can lose in their courts. Not for me, thanks.

      • Alan 14.1.1

        Unfortunately Murray this particular union is not very successful in winning cases in the ERA. This is on public record, so it is money well spent getting a quicker outcome with a private lawyer.

        Air New Zealand seem to take more notice when private counsel is used, as opposed to a Union which it clearly does not take seriously!

  15. MX 15

    Dear Robert and Stef,

    You obviously have a personal issue with the union you used to belong to and over 90% of Air NZ flight crew still belong to. With those kind of numbers there will always be unhappy members as it’s hard to please everyone. What is at stake here however is a little more wide-ranging than someone’s individual gripe with either the union or the airline.

    It would be constructive to return the focus to the issue at stake, which if successful will affect all workers in New Zealand.

    The approach taken by Air NZ is a totally unethical way to address issues concerning conditions of work, staff relations, accepted practice in dealing with unions, and good faith honouring of collective agreement provisions. The main points from my understanding being:

    • Air NZ is using their Project Choice to take work away from the domestic flight crew and shift it to its lower paid flight attendants in the subsidiary company Tasman Pacific. It will also take existing work away from the international flight crew and give it to a newly created division within Tasman Pacific. This despite the fact that recently they concluded bargaining for those collectives.
    • A company should not be allowed to achieve through offering individual contracts with reduced terms, what they failed to achieve in the bargaining for a collective. This will undermine collective bargaining as the most effective way to negotiate wages, and set a precedent to drive down wages and conditions for workers. It will give the employer more choices, not the employee.
    • If successful, Air NZ would be preceding the proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act as if these are already the law.
    • Air NZ this week announced an increased pre-tax profit of about $340 million through ‘aggressive cost management – including hiring new cabin crew at lower cost’. This would seem to support the government’s ruthless drive for cheap labour.
    • If “New Zealand’s most attractive employer” can get away with this there really is no hope for workers throughout the country.

    • stef 15.1

      You will note from my post that I was not the union member – I know someone who once was.
      That being said, yes 90% is a high membership rate, but I wonder does that 90% feel confident that they are members of a robust, militant union…perhaps not? Would Air New Zealand be able to get away with this if the union was stronger?

      I do, however agree with other posts questioning who is actually driving this change? If it is this current Government then the union is also playing right into their hands.

  16. Susan 16

    It is wrong on every level. But warning guys this Govt have not just suddenly failed to notice the breach.
    karol states in her post “So presumably it is the government that is “allowing” the breach of the Employment Relations Act? How is it possible they can do this?”
    The breach of the ERA has been a continuation since they came to power. How and why did any of Air NZ staff think the employees of Govt Dept.’s got ousted so easily.
    This process is a direct copy of the Dept. I once belonged to.
    This for them is “normal” behaviour. Ignore, disown, walk the other way like its nothing to do with them.
    Please guys… you have to figure “WHO IS DRIVING THIS” – Its not ignoring its making the bullets while your CEO and upper management fire the guns because they are trying to keep their cushy jobs more than worrying about you.
    Welcome to the Govt Dept. National Sweep. Out with the old. In with the new. All at a reduced cheaper undercut rate. Yep been going on for some time now.

    • prism 16.1

      And ACT continues their rant against ‘bloated government’, plus other RWNJs with time on their hands and no brains in their heads who visit this site to write something and pretend that they are incisive human beings not zombies.

  17. Andy 17

    Prism: I am the same person and this is my personal story. The first time I tried to upload it came up with an error message and then it worked the second time. Hence them being 1 minute apart!

    Unfortunately I hired a useless lawyer who did nothing but send a letter and charged me $1100. I decided not to go further with it as I don’t want to rack up legal fees in the $25k mark as this person said could be the case. And I was obviously unemployed at the time.

    • Te Reo Putake 17.1

      Sorry for the way it ended, Andy. You should have joined one of the unions.

    • prism 17.2

      Andy
      Sorry about the outcome. Shows how we do need unions – this business of being a strong, free thinking individual who can make deals with their employer. Load of cobblers.

      For the average guy/femme – and in your job you were average, even the pilots can get bad treatment and pay and they are more skilled than yourself, well the average guy in a large firm like yours who works hard is still just another ant.

      I usually belonged to unions still believe in the need, warts and all, not perfect but even muscly boxers in the ring have their helpers. Hope you can find the ones you need for now. Best wishes.

  18. millsy 18

    Im guessing that this move is in preperation for the Air NZ’s floatation on the NZX…

    • lprent 18.1

      That would be my bet as well. Reminds me quite a lot of Orcon’s move to offshore their support to the Philippines (last year?). Since that happened their service completely dropped downhill to worse than useless.

      Which was a real problem because the reason I moved to them in the first place was because their service side was initially crazily good. As it expanded it dropped back to adequate. Now I’m looking for a supplier that doesn’t waste my time with silliness.

      When I moved last year, I needed help with what turned out to be line problems. The local support then wasn’t great. However they were responsive about both testing the line, reading the log on the router, and were capable of understanding that they had a tech on the line. Consequently getting Chorus out to do the line was irritating, but not a drama.

      When the line problem re-occurred, it was a complete pain in the arse dealing with some idiots trying to read off a poorly written manual that appeared to have no relationship to anything to do with my setup. For instance there was a weeks delay because they got upset with me telling them I wasn’t going to factory reset my router (with its extensive firewall setup) because

      a) I didn’t know of the backup procedure for my configuration,
      b) they couldn’t tell me how to backup and restore it (there was one – google found it), and
      c) that wasn’t likely to be the problem – could they test the line first?

      Took them weeks and several phonecalls and emails to get them to test the line and send a choris tech. Who found the problem in 20 minutes. It was a exposed corroded cable in a junction box.

      Anyway, I’d anticipate that Air NZ is heading down the same god-awful path of trying to screw everyone in search of better looking trading figures for investors. If that is the case then they’ll get the same response from me. I’ll change suppliers where possible.

      Since I already avoid Jetstar inside NZ because of their crappy service – how many times can they bump either Lyn or myself off flights because they don’t fly as scheduled. Maybe it is time to stop flying inside NZ? I haven’t flown outside the country since 1991, but there is more choice there.

  19. Wayne Harvey 19

    My wife worked for Air NZ for years and showed an unbelievable work ethic, very high base PD pro etc and was a very staunch FARSA member throughout. After an incident, she took the FARSA union rep advice, was royally screwed by Air NZ and lost her job. Both of us have no faith in FARSA, even though they they stated they would fight for her case. Months down the track, no reply, no follow up. It’s disgusting the way they treat their members, I’ve seen more spine in a jellyfish. Good luck if you are with FARSA, believe me, they will screw you to! FARSA, I know you are reading this, so look up Kim Mackintosh’s case…remember her? I sincerely doubt it. Just play your justification PR email e.g stick to the topic and we can discuss this matter separately. Good luck with the fight out there xo

    • aiden 19.1

      so very sorry to hear this Wayne. Did you ever feel farsa was helping airnz dismiss your wife?

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