Monday, May 18, 2009

Air NZ strike to end tonight

Stuff, Taranaki Daily News
Last updated 15:01 10/05/2009

The lockout of striking Air New Zealand cabin crew is set to end at midnight.

About 240 crew employed by Air NZ subsidiary Zeal walked off the job on Thursday after two months of fruitless negotiations over pay parity with staff employed directly by the airline.

The workers are represented by the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

The cabin crew was picketing at the Auckland Airport today as "the last rally before the troops go back to work" union spokesman Strachan Crang said.

He said some flights had been cancelled during the protests and others consolidated, causing delays. However, Air NZ could not be reached to confirm this.

"The important thing is we have had a huge amount of public support," Mr Crang said.

The information Air NZ had put out over the pay difference were "stretched figures" he said.

The union said Zeal staff were paid up to $30,00 a year less than their Air NZ colleagues, a figure the airline has rejected.

Air NZ said the union was making comparisons with long-haul cabin crew who earned a similar base salary but had higher allowances paid in foreign currency while they were on international stopovers.

Air NZ has responded to the strike by locking out Zeal staff and bringing in management to push the trolleys on board affected flights.

About 100 staff were trained to act as crew, including chief executive Rob Fyfe and other senior management, said airline group general manager of short haul airlines, Bruce Parton.

The cabin crew will be going back to work tonight, but will continue the low level industrial action like refusing to comply with the uniform policy and refusing to carry out standby duties.

Mr Crang said mediation had not been set up with the airline yet as union representatives had been spending the last four days representing their members' interests.