Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

NZALPA submits on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018

NZALPA has lodged its submission to the Government on the proposed changes to the Employment Amendment Bill 2018 (Amendment Bill). Essentially:

“The Association generally supports the Bill which goes towards promoting New Zealand’s international obligations including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Culture and Social Rights and the International Labour Organisation’s Convention C98 Right to Organise and Bargain Collectively.”

However, there are key areas of concern within the NZALPA submission which included advocating for the removal of the 90-day trial period and mandatory access to rest and meal breaks.


NZALPA does not support the retention of the 90-day trial periods for employers with less than 20 employees, and called for these provisions to be removed in their entirety.

As explained in the NZALPA submission, the proposed provisions would affect the most vulnerable employees in New Zealand’s workforce. In the case of aviation, this is often graduate or recently qualified pilots. Often such employees begin their career encumbered with large student loans and other debt but are paid the minimum wage or can only find part time or seasonal employment.

A recent NZALPA survey found that approximately one fifth of graduate or recently qualified pilots are employed under atypical employment arrangements which can contain precarious conditions.

As outlined in the submission

“Such an environment, coupled with the proposed 90-day ‘fire at will’ provision, means that these pilots are less likely to speak out and raise legitimate safety concerns for fear of losing their jobs.”


In its submission, NZALPA stated its strong view

“that all employees should have mandatory access to rest and meal breaks as a matter of health and safety.”

This is particularly in relation to the proposed exclusion of Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) that NZALPA believes puts both the health and safety of ATCs as well as the general public in danger.

The submission explained that, under the current collective employment agreement between NZALPA and Airways, many ATCs in solo positions (usually in regional airports) can be required to work continuously for up to 7.5 hours on shift and up to 9.5 hours when performing extended duty.

While many of these regional airports would seem to have relatively low levels of aircraft movement, the primary role for an ATC is to maintain a continuous visual watch on the aerodrome and its surrounding airspace. Responsibility for any aircraft in the ATCs’ airspace remains firmly with the tower until transferred to another ATC unit, until the aircraft lands, or until it leaves the airspace.

The tower must also listen for possible safety or Mayday calls.

NZALPA is concerned that the Bill does not make adequate provisions for rest and meal breaks to ensure the health and safety of, primarily, the solo watch controller, but also the airspace users and, ultimately, the travelling public.

The submission called for

“either sufficient controllers on duty to ensure the breaks can be taken, or a process by which the breaks can be taken, without unduly interrupting air traffic. The Association believes that either relief staff should be available or temporary closure should be advised by a Notice To Air Men (NOTAM) by Airways.”

NZALPA will extend on these points during the upcoming hearing of submissions at the Education and Workforce Select Committee at Parliament. On conclusion of the select committee stage, a report and recommendations will accompany the Bill’s return to Parliament scheduled for August this year. Upcoming editions of Uplink will keep members updated on progress.



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