Looking back on the past 12 months, we have had an incredibly busy and successful year.
We have made some ground-breaking progress on many of our negotiations, had useful conversations with Ministers and officials, and completed important research into pilot career pathways and into the general aviation sector. Our representatives have attended international conferences, presented New Zealand’s thinking on the world stage and brought back invaluable insights.
Planning for next year is well underway. We have some exciting and challenging issues ahead and a good team in place to achieve outcomes.
Resolution at the negotiating table
We have been flat-out throughout the year with collective bargaining, reaching agreement on a number of settlements.
Achieving a nine-year strategic partnership with Air New Zealand (Air NZ) is a highlight. This partnership incorporates three successive three-year collective agreements – where both parties have agreed to work together constructively and collaboratively. It also includes mechanisms for ensuring salary increases that offer real wage growth, performance payment bonuses and lifestyle balance. This is a fantastic result and sets a solid foundation for our conversations with Air NZ in the future, while modelling a new approach to industrial relations.
After two years of negotiation and an initial failed ratification, we successfully ratified an agreement with Jetconnect which, amongst other improvements, provides improved days off arrangements.
We also concluded agreements with Air Freight and Canterbury Aero Club.
We are still in discussions with Virgin Australia New Zealand (VANZ), working through issues such as security of employment, access to all pilots across all ports, parity of pay and conditions with Virgin Australia pilots and leave bank provisions.
L3 started bargaining for their first collective agreement this year. It is currently very close to a settlement, which will raise the bar substantially for terms and conditions of employment for the Part 141 training sector.
We have also just initiated bargaining for Airways’ Flight Services. Bargaining for Air NZ simulator instructors will begin just before Christmas.
Earlier this year, helicopter pilots from the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT) and Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) approached NZALPA for assistance. Both operations will be merging to take up a new contract with National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO), as part of the recently announced government restructuring of this sector.
In recent weeks, we put a temporary hold on collective bargaining as we wait for health and safety and other issues to be resolved.
During the year, settlements with Massey University School of Aviation and Airways failed to receive ratification. It appears that the Airways’ settlement failed not because of the quality of its content, but rather due to relationship issues between staff and management. Work continues with these negotiations.
It is pleasing to see that scoping meetings with Air Nelson and Mt Cook for a single Air NZ Link collective agreement have finally begun. This follows agreements during their last bargaining rounds to develop a single regional collective agreement during the term of their current agreements, which end during the first half of 2019.
Work also continued during the year with Air NZ on the Air New Zealand Group Pilot Career Pathways project. This project targets a robust and transparent career pathway to ensure the future supply and retention of our pilots for the entire Air New Zealand Group.
Progressive conversations with Ministers and the Select Committee
This year we have had constructive conversations in our government outreach and lobbying projects. We had meetings with several Ministers, MPs and industry stakeholders on issues including drone integration and registration, prohibition of handheld lasers, atypical employment, pilot supply/training issues, meal and rest breaks and ‘Just culture’.
We submitted and presented to the Select Committee on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, including meal and rest breaks for ATCs and removing the 90-day trial period. We also submitted on the Privacy Bill and the Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill.
NZALPA was also invited to participate in the Union Reference Working Group which forms part of the Government’s Holidays Act review. This work will continue into 2019.
Research to help us make informed decisions
This year we have also conducted a number of surveys to keep a finger on the pulse of our membership about issues of importance.
Our inaugural General Aviation survey took a snapshot of current industry conditions, employment arrangements, opinions and experiences to help us understand the issues and needs of this growing and important part of NZALPA’s work.
In conjunction with Massey University School of Aviation, we did research to understand pilot career progression in New Zealand. This survey analysed pilot career progression, funding and training options and employment opportunities. The full report has just been released and is summarised on page 7.
We also completed a communications survey to find out what topics members would like to see in Uplink and on our app and social media platforms, and to better understand how members prefer to be communicated with. For more detail on this survey see page 16.
Our programmes showcased on the world stage
NZALPA’s Peer Assistance Network (PAN) program was showcased at the Aerospace Medical Association Annual Scientific Meeting in Dallas in May. NZALPA is a global leader in this space, with our PAN programme viewed as a world leader for mental health assistance. This led to previous Medical and Welfare Director, Herwin Bongers, being invited to be a panellist at this global event to highlight the advantages and experiences of NZALPA’s PAN.
What will the New Year bring?
Next year is already shaping up to be just as busy.
We have ongoing negotiations with Massey, the Air New Zealand Simulator Instructors, Virgin Australia NZ (VANZ), Airways’ Flight Services and ARHT/NEST. We will start a new round of contract negotiations with Jetstar and commence bargaining for the first Air New Zealand Regional collective agreement.
We expect the Wellington International Airport (WIAL) runway saga to heat up again in the New Year. Following our Supreme Court RESA win in December last year, the CAA notified us that it will consult with NZALPA on the regulatory assessment of WIAL’s recent renewed runway extension proposal. We will keep you updated on this as it progresses.
We will continue to lobby the government for change for our core issues, such as drones and laser regulation and pilot training. See NZALPA’s ’12 wishes of Christmas’ for more detail about the current issues of importance.
Following the direction from our annual conference in June, the Membership Working Group will investigate potential new categories of NZALPA membership and improved services to current membership categories.
We are also expanding our office space. In the New Year, we will take over the downstairs’ northern half of ALPA House to create much-needed meeting space. As we continue to grow, we increasingly struggle with capacity at ALPA House. Recognising this, the Board made the decision to expand downstairs, to provide dedicated meeting rooms for members.
We can sit back this Christmas and be very proud of what we’ve achieved this year. I hope you all take the time to recharge your batteries and spend time with your loved ones. I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year and to the new challenges on the horizon.
<< Opening message from NZALPA President Tim Robinson Guest Editorial – Graeme Harris >>