This month we celebrated the International Day of the Air Traffic Controller (ATC), recognising the important role that our highly trained, professional ATC colleagues play in ensuring we are safe in the sky and kept to schedule.
It was also an ideal opportunity to reflect on the issues that have affected our New Zealand ATC members.
Changes in management, procedures, projects for change, and collective employment agreement negotiations have made for an unsettled year. NZALPA has stood by our ATC members to help lobby and provide support on these issues.
Recent media reports have focused on staffing coverage and shortage problems, particularly those associated with the sole watch regional towers and in the Raglan section. These issues have also baited some inappropriate comments from the Minister of Police and local MP for Napier, Stuart Nash. NZALPA has called out these comments, and used television, radio and print media interviews to highlight the daily challenges ATC’s face.
We continue advocating to Airways and the public, on behalf of our ATC members, that new technology, such as digital towers, is not going to be a magic bullet for the ongoing staffing matters. NZALPA argues that while new technology to enhance aviation safety may be embraced, there is no substitute for professional human ATC’s in towers and radar centres.
We have also called on Airways to provide adequate staffing cover and rest and meal breaks to ensure that air traffic control continues to be safe and well-managed.
The NZALPA ATC negotiation team, supported by the ATC Council and its members, continues to work hard on the ATC-Airways Collective Agreement (CA). We hope a pathway forward can soon be found between the parties enabling us to meet the needs of our members and settle this important CA.
As this edition of Uplink went to print, we had a handing over of the reins. Jim Dunn has stepped down from his role as ATC Director. However, he will continue to represent members’ interests on the ATC Council. It is timely to acknowledge Jim’s continued efforts to support the profession for more than 20 years. Thank you for your contribution Jim, it has been invaluable and appreciated by the entire NZALPA community. Kelvin Vercoe has stepped up into the role of ATC Director, and we look forward to working with Kelvin to promote ATC matters of key importance.
NZALPA General Manager Dawn Handforth and I recently attended the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) Convention in Twin Waters, Queensland.
The convention debated many matters that could have an effect on our members back home in New Zealand – in particular, coverage of Qantas and Jetstar pilots within the Australian union movement.
The potential merger and formation of one Australian pilot union, rather than the two predominant ones that currently exist – AFAP and the Australian International Pilots Association (AIPA) – was also discussed. We will follow this developing situation closely.
AFAP has elected a new President for the next two-year term – Captain Louise Pole, from Sunstate Airlines. Louise is the first ever female President of AFAP and a long-serving, experienced union representative. We look forward to working collaboratively with Louise, sharing our knowledge and expertise with AFAP and her leadership team. Congratulations Louise.
This month we will continue our discussions with Air New Zealand on Group pilot career pathways. The thrust of these ongoing discussions will be focusing on pilot retention and potential cadet roles within the Air New Zealand Regional Airlines.
Establishing closer links between Air New Zealand Preferred Flight Training Organisations (PFTO) and the airline, and the opportunity for negotiating improved commonality between the two regional pilot collective agreements is also on the agenda. We hope this may lead to a joint regional agreement in the first half of 2019.
Have a good month everyone.
<< November 2018 General Manager's note >>