What a month it’s been for the NZALPA head office. You’ll read in the President’s update about the wider issues we’ve been working on, including the Wellington International Airport proposed runway extension (RESA) decision, now possibly going to appeal at the Supreme Court.
As well as protecting our industry and the safety of our members and the travelling public, employment security remains firmly at the top of our list of priorities.
On behalf of our strong Link membership at Air Nelson and Mt Cook Airline, we’ve been working for considerable time on the negotiation of a Link Group seniority list and its associated terms and conditions for members.
I’m thrilled to say we finally feel very close to realising our goal, although there are still some final but crucial details to be addressed.
It’s been a long road, but the work being done will provide greatly increased security of employment for regional pilots in the event of a restructuring or a merger of the regional airlines. By creating a combined Regional Seniority List (RSL), members who move from Mt Cook to Air Nelson (or vice versa), or potentially to a new entity, will have equity and visibility of where their seniority places them among their colleagues. As well as improved security of employment and fairer recognition of pilot experience, the process being finalised will offer more stability and certainty to all parties.
It’s a big accomplishment for the team and for the membership.
At the same time, we face renegotiation of the Collective Employment Agreements (CEAs) for members at Mt Cook and Air Nelson. These both expire by the beginning of July 2017, so we are faced with negotiating two separate CEAs simultaneously, but with many common issues on the table.
With the departure of Mt Cook’s General Manager, Andrew Ward, both Mt Cook and Air Nelson are now led by the current General Manager of Air Nelson, Kelvin Duff. This means that two separate companies, with two Air Operator Certificates (AOCs) flying the regional routes, are under the management of one GM, with one central Regional Operations Centre (in Christchurch).
NZALPA believes that it’s now the time to discuss amalgamation of the two operations into a single company under one AOC. This is a merger most would regard as inevitable; while Air New Zealand has not yet made any decisions in this regard, it is open to considering potential business cases.
Given the CEA negotiation situation this year, it seems inefficient to engage in two separate negotiations, dealing with almost identical issues, when, in all likelihood, we will be faced with having to negotiate a single CEA in the mid to near future.
It’s our intention to encourage a decision around amalgamation, and work collaboratively with Air New Zealand to propose a plan of what will need to be done so this is achieved. Pilot interests will be better served negotiating the larger strategic issues, instead of spending time negotiating separate but similar conditions of employment for each Links airline which would apply for the next two to three years, when these CEAs may well become superfluous by the time they are settled as the airlines merge.
In summary, NZALPA will focus on the long-term interests of our Links members by encouraging both airlines to come together in a way which protects NZALPA pilots’ security of employment. We understand the ongoing frustrations the members are experiencing on a daily basis and negotiating terms and conditions with one airline under one AOC and securing employment opportunities within the group will be beneficial to everyone. In the meantime, we are focussing our resources on working to address the current operational issues prior to heading into negotiations.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of any amalgamation discussions.
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