Happy New Year to all our members and supporters.
As you know, NZALPA spent much of 2017 raising awareness of our concerns about atypical employment models – particularly prevalent in Europe, but increasingly evident throughout New Zealand workplaces.
As we have highlighted before in Uplink, one of Europe’s biggest low-cost carriers, Ryanair, is one operation that makes use of atypical models, including bogus self-employment and subcontracting chains, which are detrimental to workers’ rights and have raised a number of safety concerns.
It was therefore with cautious optimism that we learned just before Christmas that Ryanair had committed to recognising pilots’ unions for the first time in its 32-year history – and it finally took this measure in an attempt to prevent strikes by its pilots in UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Unfortunately, within a few days, there were accusations of ‘lipservice’ made by the German Union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), as Ryanair refused to recognise members of VC’s negotiating team, with Ryanair allegedly firing one pilot two days after it learned of his involvement in the team. Ryanair also refused to sign a good faith bargaining agreement. This led to VC pilots embarking on four-hour strike action – also the first such action in Ryanair’s history.
With further strike action threatened, including in other European countries, we watch developments with interest. Information on the original union recognition announcement can be read in this month’s Uplink international news.
As we start a new year, the Ryanair situation is a timely reminder of the human resource and passenger costs, as well as clear safety risks associated with, atypical employment models, including casual contracting. It was also compounded earlier in 2017 when thousands of holidaymakers during the European summer had their travel plans threatened through an inability for the company to track annual leave, with not enough pilots rostered on to fly the planes.
Clearly, despite its touted ‘business efficiencies’, atypical employment is an issue that will continue to be a problem well into 2018 and beyond. NZALPA will continue to lobby on behalf of our members and the travelling public to work with industry, the regulator and the new government to make sure we do not experience in New Zealand the same issues and ‘race to the bottom’ conditions experienced by many in Europe and elsewhere.
NZALPA staff have also worked on an important survey of our General Aviation (GA) members that went out in January to kick the year off and to gather vital and further information from the sector. Information we’re seeking includes the working conditions under which our GA pilots are employed and is a part of our industry in particular where we find atypical employment models. These have included the use of what appear to be bogus self-employment and pseudo contracting, as well as breaches of minimum standards legislation, such as minimum wage rates and zero hour contracts.
The data from this survey will be invaluable in assisting us with our advocacy work, both at industry level and nationally with government and other stakeholders. Advocate Tom Buckley is available to members who would like to comment on this survey but have not yet received or misplaced the document.
Our team of advocates will be kept busy again this year as our collective bargaining work continues full steam ahead. We had a busy and successful 2017 concluding a number of negotiations with Jetstar; Mount Cook; Air Nelson; Jetconnect and VANZ, and this workload continues as we commence bargaining with Air New Zealand, Airways (Air Traffic Controllers), Airways (Flight Services Personnel), Air Freight, Massey University, VANZ, Canterbury Aero Club and L3.
Further interest-based problem solving has already begun with Mount Cook and Air Nelson, as we work towards commencing negotiations for a single collective employment agreement for both operations. This follows the important work already completed on the Regional Seniority List, which is currently being presented around the country at base meetings.
We also welcome a new position to the NZALPA team, with former membership services’ Pamela Hutton’s appointment as Welfare Support Officer. Pamela has begun this exciting and crucial role, providing her highly efficient, caring and much-needed support to our successful Medical and Welfare team.
It’s going to be another busy year for NZALPA but we’re confident that 2018 could be one of our most successful for members yet.