“Out of touch” EPMU announces another Zeal strike

Air New Zealand has lashed out at the EPMU after the union announced this afternoon that 240 Zeal flight attendants would launch a four-day strike from May 7.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says the decision to strike was “not taken lightly” by members, and says the system used to employ the Zeal flight attendants is “an unethical use of corporate legal structures to deprive these workers of decent conditions”.

But Air New Zealand has returned fire at Mr Little with some pointed words over his handling over the negotiations.

“Zeal management have repeatedly told the EPMU they are ready to return to mediation whenever Andrew Little makes himself available again, however there has been nothing but silence,” says Air New Zealand Group General Manager Short Haul Airlines Bruce Parton.

“Air New Zealand is quickly running out of patience with a union that clearly doesn’t want to make progress and is happy to see its members lose further income while they are on strike.”

The strike notice puts in jeopardy pay increases worth thousands of dollars for the Zeal crew, claims the airline.

“Why the EPMU would walk away from such an offer in the current economic environment defies belief. I’m not sure which universe they’re living in, but it’s not the same one as everyone else,” says Mr Parton.

“Zeal offered a very good pay increase at a time when Air New Zealand is trying to do everything it can to avoid redundancies like we have seen at Qantas, who will be axing an additional 1750 jobs on top of the 1500 already announced –equating to approximately 10% of their workforce.”

He gives an ominous warning to the striking staff, saying “Air New Zealand is quickly being driven towards finding other means of crewing its A320 fleet in future”.

Market analysis from Air New Zealand shows Zeal flight attendants already earn more than their equivalents working for competitors across the Tasman: “That is the pay-parity reality EPMU needs to understand,” says Mr Parton.

“Trying to claim they should be paid the same as long-haul cabin crew who are logically given higher allowances to pay for items in foreign currency while on multi-day layovers in the likes of the USA and Japan is ridiculous.”

Mr Little says, “This is a matter of basic fairness. We’ll continue to negotiate with the company in good faith until we get an agreement.”

Today’s strike notice is the latest in a long, disruptive saga for the airline.

Originally a four-day strike was scheduled for Easter weekend, but that was cancelled due to legal advice to the EPMU over the wording over the strike notice.

Despite this, Zeal staff, who work on Air New Zealand’s Airbus 320 aircraft covering Pacific and Trans-Tasman routes, continued with industrial action including not wearing correct uniform, which caused one flight to be grounded.

The latest strike will take place during Mother’s Day weekend.

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21 Comments & Questions

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OMG dosnt' the Union boss LITTLE also run the Labour Party,I would be concerned if he stuffed up my travel plans ,bad enough wearing a Union hat ,now it seems itsa cocked hat part Labour and the other EPMU,i wonder what the two MPS sitting side by side in parliament would say or would they endorse it ?What say you GOFF and KING.

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hmmm... so the same Andrew Little who is Labour Party president is now doing his best to create as much of a fiasco and strike action as possible, then blame it on the largely government owned Air New Zealand.

Mr Little shows the same contempt for New Zealanders as Helen Clark and Michael Cullen... putting NZers interests aside to further his own political ambitions.

Mr Little, if you are quick, perhaps Helen needs a lap dog... because NZ doesnt need you.

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Completely agree with AndyB here - NZ doesn't need unions deliberately stirring up any kind of "issue" so they can then strike to hold an employer to ransom - like NZ has seen with planes, trains and no doubt automobiles also.

Ironically, National probably welcomes him as "leader" of Labour party and Unions - as he can't do either effectively, let alone both.. and whilst he's in the job it's stopping others which has to help National in the long-term - which then benefits all of NZ ironicaly.

Hey Little! Your ideologies and reasonings are smelling like last years stale milk... why don't you go join Comrade Helen in Afghanistan eh! And let NZ get on with being productive!

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I find it ironic that the Labour Party goons with nothing productive to add to NZ attack Richard Worth on his conflicts of interest (and probably rightly so) but his conflicts of interest dont even hold a torch to Andrew Little running the Labour Party and the EPMU. He seems to believe he can do both roles.

If I was an EPMU member I would demand his resignation... clearly he cant open his mouth and look after members' interest without being seen as the stirring Labour Party president. Similarly, the Labour party should require him to step down as every time he opens his mouth as party president he will be seen as just another whinging, commie, unionist.... is that the way the 'new-look' Labour party want to present themselves?

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Good on you AirNZ (NOT!) AirNZ has revoked previously approved leave (which apparently has been flagged as illegal) Those that have incurred costs from purchasing accommodation and flights are now faced with either losing non refundable costs or go and face loosing their job when they return. In a friends case this will be $3k out of their savings

Remind me why the CEO was invited to the Job summit, it seems he's not out to save jobs, if they plan on importing others and other measure (eg Hudson Recruitment - yes that's one way to get around the legality to hiring staff during a strike)

As for economic climate in the above story...$28m profit for the quarter and 1.4b in cash in the bank is obviously bad (yea right) ...

What's the lawyers bill so far and the alternative tactics and cost of management time? Could this cost AirNZ more, implementation and consulting must be a premium as this sort of company would hire the best of the best, no?

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Hey Karl,

$28m for a half year result (not the quarter as you say) is a garbage return when you consider the company had to turnover more than $2b to make that tiny little profit. Not a return on investment that any business owner like me would be happy with - and I certainly wouldn't be giving my staff a pay rise with a result like that.

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The Labour Party President Andrew Little masquerading as a Union Hack has called for an Airline strike on Mothers Day,Seems that is the social engineering we have had to put up with ,i thought it was over when the Big Cheese left to control the world from NEW YORK she should have taken the LABOUR PARTY president with her,of course only Mothers will miss out.

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To suggest, as Mr Parton has, that the Zeal crew want to work under the same terms and conditions as long haul crew, is ridiculous. This would only be so if Air New Zealand asked them to do long haul flying. The Zeal crew are asking for short haul terms and conditions for the short haul flying they do.

"Zeal flight attendants already earn more than their equivalents working for competitors across the Tasman..."
Lies. The Zeal crew do not earn anywhere near what Air New Zealand, Qantas, Emirates crew earn when flying the Tasman. These are the equivalents against which we would measure.

Perhaps Mr Parton and his team of overpaid colleagues in Fanshawe street should also consider that they have 12 Airbus 320's crewed by Flight Attendants who have no legal obligations to comply with any direction what so ever from Air New Zealand ltd. This means that they do not have to wear Air New Zealand uniform or comply with any Air New Zealand safety standards.

And New Zealand's CAA allows this.

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Unfortunately,EPMU members are blind to what A.Little is up to. they just naturally hate bosses-capitalists !!they bark! many do not even know what that means !they hate job creators and those who try to maintain jobs-because they have been told by union people to hate anyone who is successful. They also blindly adore(d) Clark. What sort of MEN would do that ???? MT

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Why should Andrew Little have to show up personally to mediation? Rob Fyfe hasn't bothered - but why would he when he's too busy doing a centerfold for North & South.

Good point about the CAA. Where are those goons? So we have an airline flying around with crew who it doesn't employ, what safety are they bringing on board if they don't have to do what the CAA has licenced Air New Zealand to deliver. What an amazing business model - flying around crew who don't have to do whatever you tell them and ask the travelling public to "follow your crew instructions."

Great cost cutting though. And you wonder why people would fly with your competitors.

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Show your support for free enterprise and smart business thinking. Join the Zeal Flight Attendants Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=61304859532&ref=ts

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Why dosnt the staff of the Zeal airline try Singapore OR Emirates ,and with a bit of luck Qantas,where they will have an opening with them ,CLOSE IT ON THE WAY OUT,SEEMS TO ME THEY JUST DONT WANT TO WORK ,WELL WITH A BIT OF PERSUASION THEY WILL GET THEIR WISH.

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They aren't asking for a pay rise, they're asking to get paid what the airline already pays it's crew to do the same job. No more, no less, THE SAME.

This isn't a renegotiation, it's a new negotiation, because Air New Zealand has NEVER negotiated an employment agreement with these crew - it shut down their airline, got them to do short haul flying but hasn't paid them for short haul flying or given them the short haul employment agreement.

If the profit is pitiful then ask the managers why they aren't performing.

The Employment Court will make Air New Zealand pay these crew, so it would be cheaper to pay the arrears now rather than later, and face another Holidays Act verdict.

Air New Zealand thinking it's above the law again.

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Guess what?

I'm putting an ad in the Herald from Hudson Shared Services and I'm advertising your job. Yes that's right buddy, your job. And to get our profit up I'm advertising your job with 70% less refunded for your expense claims, 26% less salary, half the rest time, no breaks in the workplace, but you'll be doing 100% of the work.

I hope you know how to use an oxygen mask or evacuate a plane when you're asleep in your crew seat.

I'm sure this will generate a return on investment that a business owner like you will be happy with.

Welcome to the world of Air New Zealand tasman pacific crew.

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TheZeal crew have never had a fair deal. They are the forgotten aftermath of Freedom Air - and Freedom Air was all about killing Kiwi Air - an airline set up by real Kiwis for Kiwis to fly out of small regional Kiwis.

Air NZ have killed all this enterprise; kept wages low; and pulled out of the provinces. They are immoral, and ignorant of the true relaity. they are misleading all New Zealanders by trying to pretend Zeal salaries are on par with other staff and other airlines.

The Zeal crew is doing the same job as other staff within the same parent company and getting paid less. This is not fair - and I wholeheartedly respect the crew and the EPMU for taking this action.

Air NZ should wirthdraw the lock out notice and make some sort of realistic offer to have salaries level accoss the short haul airline. Anything less than this is not going to be acceptable, and I think similar examples of disparity in renumeration have been ruled on by the Employment Court and in all of the cases I am aware of the union and the staff have been the beneficiary. This is a justice issue and Fyfe and his goons should be admonished by the majority shareholder - NEW ZEALAND! The Kiwis they have stuffed around for years.

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Why do we still insist on having a national airline.
It would have saved us a lot of millions if we had let it fail instead of bailing it out.

The rest of the world has largely abandoned the idea.
The only one I can think of , is Singapore Airlines.

Privatisation is the current way of doing things.

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Well it is not compulsory to work for ZEAL,go figure.

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You're right Robyn, it's not compulsory to work for Zeal. Most of them never asked to work there anyway. I guess what you're implying is that they could go and work somewhere else.

They could. But they won't. Because they aren't cowards.

The Tasman Pacific crew have seen a wrong and stood up to it with courage, passion and mana.

These crew won't be running away, they will be there next week, next month, next year, and beyond. They aren't leaving. Get used to it.

And in the middle of the night, high above the world, if you needed oxygen, or have heart attack, choke, collapse, or have a stroke, these crew will be there for you, or your Mum, Dad, child, grandchild, and they'll never leave your side. They'd do it no matter what you paid them, because they're pros.

If Air New Zealand managers really believe that paying their staff equally will disadvantage the airline in the global marketplace then it is the responsibility of those managers to come up with innovative strategies to be competitive. That is the fundamental challenge facing EVERY New Zealand business and those that adapt will stay in business.

Why was Freedom shut down if thats the business model Air New Zealand needs to beat the competition?

The longer "hosty hating" spin from Fanshawe St goes unchallenged the less anyone asks why Tasman Pacific's senior managers aren't coming up with savvy revenue earning ideas.

Those 'managers' have their own choice to make or the Employment Court will make it for them.

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Robyn - It wasnt their choice, the were working for Freedom Air, which were good employers, now big bad parent AirNZ rolled it into AirNZ and called it Zeal ltd and and those that have been around since those days have had the rugg pulled......so again it wasnt their choice they just wanted to keep their position and a job, like you

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You are only 1/2 correct in the rest of your statement - when your are turning over the $billion mark you will not achieve same ROI as the same medium and small business model (your a small business owner in a dream world). Before you quote again you should consider breaking down which sections of AirNZ are making profits and losses - Zeal is not a poor performer. Your statement should suggest all should be affected including management if AirNZ is performing, which so far this has not. You have made the mistake of lumping all business units into the one group, which suggests you are from a small business and operating a small business model. Your staff? sounds like your not the employer. (otherwise you would have said employee's)

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Listen to this Radio New Zealand link to discover what Air New Zealand doesn't want you to know:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/ckpt/2009/04/21/air_nz_cabin_cre...

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