After an almost nine month wait, the Supreme Court finally announced its decision to uphold the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction to overturn the contractual right of all Air New Zealand’s Second Officer and Boeing 737 (B737) First Officer Pilots to be paid the same increase in remuneration regardless of union affiliation.
This was a disappointing decision for NZALPA and the 84 per cent of Air New Zealand’s jet pilots among our membership, but this is not the end of the matter. Whilst the decision confirmed the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction to review the principles of CEA interpretation, as invoked by the Employment Court, it did not uphold Air New Zealand’s interpretation of the applicable s24.2 Collective Employment Agreement (CEA) clause. As a reminder, this clause states:
24.2 During the term of this Agreement any agreement entered into by the Company with any other employee group which is more favourable than provided for in this Agreement will be passed on to pilots covered by this Agreement on the written request of the Association.
The Supreme Court judgement was reported throughout the national media, and, in giving our reaction, I wanted to make clear a number of points on behalf of NZALPA.
I stressed that taking such a series of legal actions is not an easy decision but that this issue was fundamentally important for our hard-working and dedicated pilots, particularly because of the need for fairness and to treat all pilots equally regardless of what membership group they belong to.
Air New Zealand pilots are proud of working for the national carrier and playing their part in the success of the airline as a global brand. This loyalty, I said, means that continuing a two-tier contractual approach remains upsetting for many pilots, who feel they are treated differently to their colleagues just because they choose to belong to a highly supportive professional organisation in NZALPA.
On hearing the decision, we said NZALPA would now consider our options.
There now may be a ‘third’ or alternative interpretation that can be attached to the clause that neither party nor Counsel has yet submitted to the Court. There is a possibility that this will provide an avenue to remit these proceedings back to the Employment Court to advocate for this interpretation.
There is also a possibility that discussions can take place with Air New Zealand, outside the judicial process, to explore whether there could be an agreed interpretation of the clause that all parties could settle on. We’ll keep you updated.
Meanwhile, Airways New Zealand announced its new Chief Executive this month. Graeme Sumner will be returning to New Zealand from his current role as Managing Director of Advanced Braking Technology based in Melbourne and will begin in October. The announcement was made by Chair Judy Kirk who advised that one of Graeme’s first undertakings as CEO “will be getting out and about meeting the people who make Airways such a great place”.
This was heartening to hear, as both former ATC Director Jon Brooks and I met with Judy when the recruitment process was being undertaken. On behalf of NZALPA, we stressed that people and safety should be the top priority for Airways and that we’re looking forward to working with a new leader who not just talks about this, but actively demonstrates this commitment. New ATC Director Jim Dunn, the ATC Council and I warmly welcome Graeme and are looking forward to meeting him as soon as possible.
It’s also only just over a month until New Zealanders go to the polls and the electioneering is really heating up. Next month’s September issue of Uplink Quarterly will include a 2017 General Election special and will feature a run down of the policies of the major parties in relation to our industry. This will include not just transport and aviation, but also those important employment and training announcements, as well as general attitude to Open Skies and related international agreements affecting our sector.
We also recently welcomed a Ministry of Transport (MoT) senior advisor, Sonya van de Geer, who spoke to the IFALPA Public and Government Affairs meeting, hosted by NZALPA in Auckland. Sonya gave a robust and informative insight into current MoT aviation policy and how the Ministry carried out the policy, particularly in international forums, of the current government.
I’m delighted to announce that the roll out of NZALPA’s own Smartphone App is nearly complete. Our final group of members to come online will be Air New Zealand Jet, who should be able to access the App from the end of July. The moderator for the App is NZALPA administrator Melanie Paulin and is doing a great job supporting members while working closely with our communications team on content, or, as they like to say, “news you can use.”
Finally, the first NZALPA Board of Management (BOM) meeting for the 2017-18 financial year will be held in mid-August. Top of the agenda will be welcoming the new BOM members and further progressing NZALPA’s confirmed strategic priorities. I’m looking forward to reporting back on proceedings in the next issue.
Have a safe month