Written By: - Date published: 7:49 am, December 11th, 2018 - 53 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, Economy, jacinda ardern, john key, Judith Collins, labour, national, same old national, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:
After a decade of pent up frustration at stalled wage talks and non existing wage increases there has been a certain amount of industrial action recently.
The latest news involves Air New Zealand. And it provides a text book example on how important media is concerning strikes.
Management got in first:
Air New Zealand engineers have outlined plans to strike on the airline’s busiest travel day of the year, putting Christmas travel plans at risk for tens of thousands of travellers.
The unions (The Aviation and Marine Engineers Association and E tū) representing Air New Zealand’s aircraft maintenance engineers, aircraft logistics and related staff served a notice of the planned action only four days before Christmas.
The strike action is set to involve almost 1000 staff members on December 21, and could affect the travel plans of 42,000 customers booked to travel on that day.
The strike action involves a pay dispute, in regard to annual increases in staff pay.
A statement from Air New Zealand said that while the group of engineers has received pay increases annually for the past 12 years, it has so far rejected recent proposals by the airline including an immediate two per cent pay increase followed by a further three per cent increase after 12 months, with a further pay review in mid-2021.
Air New Zealand said the average income of the maintenance engineers, logistics and other staff to strike is $115,000 – and around 170 of them earn more than $150,000.
In addition to the pay concerns, staff are also asking for an extra week of annual leave for employees with five years’ service (taking shift workers to six weeks a year), free reserved car parking spaces within 500 metres of their workplace, and the right to renegotiate terms just prior to the busy Christmas season again next year.
Air New Zealand General Manager Aircraft Maintenance Viv de Beus described the proposed strike action as extremely disappointing.
“It would be devastating to see the holiday plans of more than 40,000 hardworking Kiwis and international visitors ruined,” de Beus said.
“We have only been in negotiations with this group for six weeks so industrial action is entirely premature. We remain committed to working closely with the engineers’ unions to reach a reasonable agreement and avoid strike action if at all possible.”
Going public and blaming the union for taking action is hardly the thing that an employer wanting to maintain good relations would do. But the first thing you do if you want to win the all important PR battle.
Etu has responded:
Aviation unions say they are very disappointed with the misleading information released by Air New Zealand in response to a strike notice by its aviation engineers.
The engineers and logistics workers have voted to issue strike notices in response to Air New Zealand’s demands for cuts to their conditions.
Air New Zealand is making record profits thanks to union members, and Engineering members have rejected the airline’s demands for clawbacks, says Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation.
“No one wants to disrupt people’s Christmas plans, but Air New Zealand has taken an unnecessarily aggressive approach.
“This is not just about pay. It’s about repeated proposals by the airline weeks out from Christmas to pay them less than colleagues who have already settled, and to cut into key conditions, including overtime rates.
“This affects line and hangar engineers, but also store workers and aircraft cleaners, who are covered by the same document and who are struggling to get ahead,” he says.
“Our members feel under-appreciated and under attack. The ballot results show an overwhelming resolve to take action to defend themselves.”
And yes Air New Zealand made its second highest profit ever, $540 million last year. For it to try and wind back wages and conditions when it is doing so well is appalling.
This guy has turned up to provide independent unbiased commentary.
Air NZ board member and former PM John Key concerned at potential airline's strike action at Christmas – New Zealand Herald https://t.co/2PCCvi5MiR
— New Zealand TourNews (@NewZealand_Tour) December 9, 2018
And National MPs are salivating at the chance to claim we are going to have 1970s style industrial relations and that it is all Labour’s fault.
Here we go… Remember Jacinda Ardern promising these strikes weren’t going to happen with Labour in charge? What a travesty! More strikes in the last 12 months than in the last 24 years. Hey thanks Labour/ NZ First / Greens. https://t.co/gwOIK48LjD
— Judith Collins (@JudithCollinsMP) December 6, 2018
Of course Collins’s claim has been debunked repeatedly but why let facts get in the way of attack politics and right wing political rhetoric.
I suspect that if this dispute does not settle then it will trigger some intense anti union rhetoric from the right. This could be an interesting couple of weeks.