E tū says that Air New Zealand’s effort to save money in an
extreme response to the COVID-19 is doing irreparable damage to their workplace
Air New Zealand’s latest response to the crisis includes
shutting down the RML Nelson maintenance facility, refusing to bring back work
currently being done in Singapore, and keeping workers and the public in the
dark about worker exposure to the virus.
The proposal to close the Nelson maintenance facility, with
the potential loss of up to 100 jobs, has been under consideration by Air New
Zealand since mid-2019. They are using the COVID-19 situation to go ahead with
a closure despite regional flying being the least affected of all their activities.
One affected member, who wishes to remain anonymous, says
that they were devastated when they heard the news.
“I had to take any plans I had made for the next 10 years
and throw them in the rubbish. I took a considerable pay cut moving here, just
so I could be a part of this great community.
“It’s not just the employees this affects. It’s also the
partners and children that will all be torn from this community. I bought a
house here, met my partner here, and have become a part of this community. I
planned on spending the rest of my days walking on the beaches and in the
forests of this great place. Now, I will be forced to chase work in bigger
Another anonymous member says that it is a big blow to the
“RML was set up by Air New Zealand to provide a more
effective model of maintaining turboprop aircraft, which contributed to lower maintenance
costs overall for the company. The growth of RML from Air Nelson has seen over
100 jobs being established in Nelson.
“It was a surprise to me that Air New Zealand have seemed to
take a 180 turn on the reasons RML was set up. I am left feeling like Air New
Zealand are trying to transfer the impact the virus is having in Christchurch
to RML. It feels like we are being asked to accept this proposal under duress,
and that it really has not been thought through.”
Another member said the timing of the decision was unfair.
“This will have a devastating effect on me and my family
because there is no prospect of finding other work in Nelson. It is being done with
very little notice, in a time of lock down due to COVID-19. I feel it is
totally unfair to make these moves and make people redundant while the company
takes government support.”
E tū aviation negotiation specialist, Paul Graham, says E tū
challenged Air New Zealand in mid-March to support the regions and resist the
temptation to close down regional operations.
“We called for them to keep RML heavy maintenance in Nelson
open. They have ignored this call. They are increasingly blind to the human
costs of their financial decisions,” Paul says.
“Air New Zealand are losing the respect of their employees
and losing their status as a desired employer. Their behaviour towards their
employees is increasingly heavy-handed.
“Air New Zealand’s reputation as a great carrier and good
employer is one of the main reasons for their success. It seems they are
choosing to throw that all away to maintain their cash reserves while they
slash and burn jobs. This is despite receiving the wage subsidy and a
substantial loan from the Government.
“Kiwis don’t want our national carrier behaving so badly.
Our message to the company: do the right thing.”
E tū Head of Aviation, Savage, added that the secrecy around
COVID-19 infections in the Air New Zealand workforce demonstrated their new
“Their brand is more important than safety at the moment. There’s
no transparency, little accountability, and they are quickly losing the faith
of staff and the wider community.”
For more info or comment:
Paul Graham, 027 204 6337
Savage, 027 590 0074