Despite four days of strike action and growing public outrage over Air New Zealand’s treatment of its Zeal320 flight attendants, CEO Rob Fyfe is still refusing to even start closing the glaring pay gap between these workers and those employed directly by AirNZ.
Why is Fyfe willing to force these workers into even more strike action, damage the company’s brand and leave even more planes sitting on the ground rather than just giving the Zeal320 staff a completely fair pay rise? There’s only 240 of them. Their claims for this round could probably be settled for as little as $6000 each, a step towards pay parity with people doing the same job as them. $1.5 million. It’s nothing to a company that had $4.2 billion in revenue last year.
Fyfe could literally give up his pay rise for one year to solve this dispute. So why is he willing to take so much punishment to stop the flight attendants getting a pay rise?
Because Zeal320 is Fyfe’s model for the future.
Right now most flight attendants are employed directly by AirNZ and get paid much better than people doing the same job who are employed by Zeal320. The 1000 flight attendants employed by AirNZ directly get something like $20,000 a year on average more than their Zeal320 colleagues.
What would happen if Fyfe could get all the flight attendants on to Zeal320 wages? By attrition and redundancies get rid of the flight attendants who are directly employed by AirNZ and replace them with workers employed on Zeal320 wages. Now you’re talking serious money – $20 million a year in reduced wages.
That’s what Fyfe is really fighting for. Not over a puny $1.5 million but because if Zeal320 workers get on track to pay parity with other flight attendants the chance to screw all flight attendants will be lost. And after them, the rest of the AirNZ workforce.
We all saw what Fyfe did in Air NZ Engineering and in Airport Services, his model is to cut and outsource until there’s nothing left. And judging by his 93% pay rise last year, enrich himself in the process. Is this really the business model we want for an iconic company that is 80% owned by the public?