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View Full Version : Air NZ staff left in lurch, Aussie taxpayer to pay


Wirraway
21st Jan 2003, 14:55
Wed "The Australian" 22/1/03

Air NZ staff left in lurch
By Steve Creedy
January 22, 2003

THE airline that abandoned 16,000 Ansett employees has told its Australian workers it will not secure their entitlements because they have access to government safety nets similar to the scheme responsible for the $10 Ansett tax.

The rebuff by Air New Zealand has outraged union officials, who say the airline is basically telling local workers they should depend on the federal Government for their entitlements.

"Basically, the tenor of the whole thing is that the Australian taxpayer can pay," said Australian Services Union assistant national secretary Linda White.

The ASU sought additional security over entitlements during contract negotiations last year because of worries about the Kiwi carrier's history and its financial position.

Air NZ employs about 90 Australian workers at airports as well as in sales and reservations.

Air NZ is clawing its way back from a near financial disaster that forced the NZ Government to launch a costly rescue bid.

Because of the debacle the Australian Government imposed a $10 ticket levy on domestic flights to cover basic worker entitlements after Air NZ cut Ansett adrift and the airline was placed in administration.

More recently, airline officials have predicted a grim future for the Kiwi carrier if a controversial equity alliance with Qantas is not allowed to proceed.

The ASU proposed three alternatives - a trust fund scheme, an insurance scheme and a charge over assets - to secure the Air NZ workers' entitlements "given the history and precedent set by Air NZ and its former subsidiary Ansett".

But in a letter obtained by The Australian, Air NZ said it did not see why it should incur the additional costs of securing the Australian workers' entitlements.

The letter from human resources manager Allen Pascoe pointed to protections such as the corporations law and the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme.

"Given the statutory protection of employee entitlements and access to safety net schemes such as GEERS, we consider that it is neither necessary nor appropriate for Air New Zealand to incur the additional costs associated with establishing any of the alternatives you canvass in your letter of November 12," the letter said.

Buster Hyman
22nd Jan 2003, 00:34
New board, new attitude huh?

spleener
22nd Jan 2003, 10:05
Hey it's an unfair and cruel world out there, but here's a deal: if the Oz Government will set a precedent and pay out the ex-Ansett overseas based employees their back-pay, ticket refunds, leave pay, retirement fund deuctions and other entitlements, then of course the Australian based employees of a foreign company should expect like treatment.
Lotsa luck!
The overseas based, ex-Ansett employees received nil/nada/SFA. These crews, always treated as 2nd class Asian helpers, were simply left out in the cold, in foreign lands.
Hmm - sorry to get off the thread a bit, but there is a parallel; spare a thought...

SydGirl
22nd Jan 2003, 20:36
Just my opinion here, but AirNZ's arrogance is startling.

Whether you're employed by AirNZ in Auckland or Timbuctoo it shouldn't matter - AirNZ should protect your entitlements regardless.

SG
:)

Wirraway
23rd Jan 2003, 03:18
N.Z.P.A.

Air NZ cops a blast from Aussie unions
23 January 2003

SYDNEY: Air New Zealand has copped a blast from the union representing its Australian workers because it has refused to secure their entitlements, saying their access to government safety nets is sufficient.


The airline is currently in the midst of contract negotiations with the Australian Services Union (ASU) over its 90 Australian employees, who work at airports as well as in sales and reservations.

ASU assistant national secretary Linda White said the entitlements issue was one of a number that the airline was being "bloody-minded" about.

The union has sought additional security over entitlements, such as leave and redundancy provisions, because of worries over Air NZ's history and financial position.

The airline had to be rescued by the New Zealand Government last year after the collapse of its Australian subsidiary Ansett brought it to its knees.

Ms White said the Ansett collapse was behind the union move towards extra security for entitlements.

"About 25 per cent of the staff are ex-Ansett people so it is a bit deja vu for them. (Air NZ) say they don't want to set a precedent, but they have already set the precedent - 16,000 Australians had never been made redundant in the whole corporate history of this country (before the Ansett collapse)," she said.

The union proposed three measures to give staff extra security - a trust fund scheme, an insurance scheme, and a charge over assets. Any of the three would be acceptable, but Air NZ has said they cost too much, Ms White said.

"No doubt times are tough for them, but when your New Zealand finance minister (Michael Cullen), representing the majority of shareholders, tells the world they are going to go to the wall if the Qantas deal doesn't go through, then what should a prudent set of employees do? I don't think "trust me" is an option."

In a letter Air NZ human resources manager in Sydney, Allen Pascoe, said employees had protection through law and the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (Geers).

"Given the statutory protection of employee entitlements and access to safety net schemes such as Geers, we consider that it is neither necessary nor appropriate for Air NZ to incur the additional costs associated with establishing any of the alternatives you canvass in your letter of November 12," Mr Pascoe said.

He said Air NZ acknowledged that security of entitlements was an important issue for its employees.

"The most effective way to allay these concerns is to develop and maintain a strong and vibrant business."

The union's proposals would not be conducive to achieving that goal and so the airline felt compelled to reject them, he said.

Ms White said Air NZ was saying the Australian taxpayer would have to pay, but every Australian who flew domestically was paying for the Ansett collapse, courtesy of a $10 tax levy to cover basic worker entitlements.

"We would have to caution Qantas that they might end up with all this," Ms White said in reference to the proposed equity alliance with Air NZ.

Last night an Air NZ spokesman in Melbourne said the airline was disappointed the union had gone public when it was a delicate issue still under discussion.

The union had isolated one point out of about eight under discussion, when progress was being made on others, he said.

The airline was being asked to provide entitlements security which no other airline had agreed to. He said Air NZ preferred to complete the contract negotiations privately before commenting further.

RENURPP
23rd Jan 2003, 05:39
just curious. I have not followed this subject with much interest but your comments made me wonder why the Aus government should even consider paying overseas entitlements when ANSETT was a New Zealand owned company.

Wirraway
24th Jan 2003, 03:58
NZ can't jettison Aussies
By Steve Creedy
January 24, 2003

AIR New Zealand remains legally and morally bound to meet the entitlements of its Australian staff and could not argue employees could rely on a government safety net if the airline failed, the federal Government said this week.

A spokesman for Transport Minister John Anderson said nothing had changed the airline's obligations, despite its refusal to agree to a scheme to the secure the entitlements of about 90 Australian-based staff.

The spokesman said the airline could not argue employees could rely on the federal Government's General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme.

"They are legally and morally obliged to pay their workers' entitlements," the spokesman said.

"Having said that, while we understand the union's concern about Air New Zealand, which is a company that has form on this issue, the fact is that failure to meet the union demand to set up some sort of security system does not represent a failure by them to meet their workers' entitlements."

The Government comments came as Air New Zealand reacted strongly to the public release of a letter refusing union demands in contract negotiations for a system securing entitlements in Australia.

The Australian Services Union proposed three alternatives a trust fund scheme, an insurance scheme and a charge over assets to secure Air New Zealand workers' entitlements "given the history and the precedent set by Air New Zealand and its former subsidiary, Ansett".

In its letter, Air New Zealand said it did not see why it should incur the additional costs of securing Australian workers' entitlements, given they had statutory protection and access to safety net schemes such as GEERS.

The airline argued the proposals were unprecedented in the industry, that a trust involved complex legal and taxation issues while a charge over assets had significant implications for existing financing arrangements.

A follow-up letter sent to staff yesterday criticised the failure to mention an improved offer in the contract negotiations or an offer of regular union access to audited accounts to reassure officials of the airline's solvency.

I like the following statement

Senior vice-president of Australian sales and distribution Paul Donovan said later that Air New Zealand would not run away from its responsibilities but the union's options were not palatable, "as they wouldn't be with any other corporation in Australia".

"We have to put to the union that they can have the same (deal) as is normal practice, that is, they can look at our books to check we're in good shape," Mr Donovan said.

But ASU assistant national secretary Linda White said the bargaining offer mentioned in the latest letter had not yet been put to the union. Ms White said the airline had told her it would not put the offer until the union withdrew the entitlements claim, a view Mr Donovan rejected.

She warned the issue was likely to culminate in industrial action by Australian staff.

AViON calling!!
25th Jan 2003, 06:58
RUNURPP,

I think the foreign based Ansett crew being discussed were employed by Ansett International, not Ansett Australia. Ansett International was 51% Australian owned (not fully owned by Air New Zealand).

SPLEENER,

You consider the foreign based crew as 2nd class asian helpers. Get real!! Did you work for Ansett International? Some bases were on more money than the Australian crew, and received housing allowances. I never heard anyone complain then, why start now. They were very well looked after throughout their employment, and those who weren't happy left and found other work. If you did work for them, just be thankful you were able to get a flying job in Hong Kong.

spleener
29th Jan 2003, 00:51
Avion,
Yes, better AUD salary given the slide in the AUD -but please consider the cost of living. Housing allowance, yes just enough to rent less than 500 square feet if you're willing to share it with 2 others minimum. An allowance less than a third of the [industry standard] CX rate. But my comments regarding the 2nd class treatment do not stem from the salary debate, after all that was disclosed at sign up!
Rather I refer to the way they were managed and treated: areas of concern were, but not limited to:
Industrial protection, no rostering schedule of flight time limits, a refusal of the company to reply to any questions relating to schedule assignment or maximum duty or minimum rest periods. Although such arrangements are an AOC requirement.
A refusal by the company to arrange sponsorship of Japanese and Taiwanese crews for Hong Kong working Visa. This meant such crews were illegal workers in HKG and had to do tourist "Visa runs" to avoid prosecution by the HKG government.
Inability to have any DIRECT union support, not really the unions fault though.
Many instances of substandard treatment. Here's one example that should convey the working environment: Crew transport and accommodation. The flights were all pretty long and transport was always arranged, except at Sydney where non-Australian crews had to wait outdoors to catch the infrequent Hotel Shuttle to the airport hotel. Because of the "hot bed" system, rooms were normally unavailable for a few hours. Allowances were usually paid a day or so late, or there may have been no reservation because AN hadn't managed to think 12 hours ahead. Compare these arrangements to Melbourne with Limo service to a downtown hotel. What was the difference? How long did the HKG Airport Hotel for Australian crews last before it was changed back to a downtown hotel?
Please note: NO complaints directed against the great Aussie crews here, I are one!

Buster Hyman
29th Jan 2003, 02:43
The flights were all pretty long and transport was always arranged, except at Sydney where non-Australian crews had to wait outdoors to catch the infrequent Hotel Shuttle to the airport hotel

Err, you'd better get some facts before you vent yourself there spleener. I think you'll find that ALL crews caught the shuttle bus to the Stamford in SYD, Domestic, Intl, Tech & chefs too! The "Aussie" crews that didn't catch the bus were probably based in SYD.