Showdown with a bully

Mike Kay in The Spark December 2007

Members of the Service and Food Workers Union in Air New Zealand are headed for a showdown with the employer, after facing months of underhand and bullying tactics by the flag carrier. Air NZ has issued 128 workers with lockout notices up to 6 December unless they agree to the company’s three-year deal with major clawbacks.

This comes just after the Employment Relations Authority had ruled in favour of the union, finding that Air NZ had misled new employees by telling them the SFWU collective agreement had expired.

The Authority also found Air NZ in breach of good faith by inducing SFWU members to resign from the union, and suggesting they join the EPMU instead. Air NZ was found to have deliberately undermined the collective just before bargaining was to begin. The union is now seeking facilitation from the Authority.

Currently SFWU members enjoy a number of benefits under their collective including meal allowances, extra shift allowances, overtime rates after eight hours’ work and double time for overtime worked after midnight and on weekends.

Air NZ want to completely casualise these workers, so that a worker may, for instance, be rostered on for three hours at 2am. Delegates, enraged by the employer’s flagrant behaviour, have been talking about direct-action style demonstrations.

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