Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

Upfront with NZALPA President

President Andrew Ridling


This is the first article that I have written as President of our association for some time. It is a pleasure and an honour to be elected to the office of President again, especially as we approach the organisation’s 75th anniversary.

Our strategy “Building Bridges” will be rolled out over the next few months leading up to anniversary celebrations in the later part of next year. 

Over the last few months I have witnessed scenarios that have surprised me, which has led me to interrogate our data base and provide a theme for this first editorial. 

To begin my tenure I have asked Kim George, the Vice – President, for a breakdown on our membership joining figures over the last 10 years. These figures of course do not take into account those who have transferred within airline groups. But what they do is highlight the movement within the industry. 

The following members have joined their respective employers and NZALPA in the last 10 years: 

  • 154 members have joined ATC 
  • 204 members have joined Air Nelson 
  • 75 members have joined Jetconnect 
  • 77 members have joined Jetstar Airways 
  • 50 members have joined Jetstar NZ Regional 
  • 246 members have joined Mount Cook 
  • 130 members have joined Virgin 

There were 276 members who joined other employers in the last 10 years. 

Our largest membership group now has 958 members. They are represented by the Air New Zealand Jet council. Of this group: 

  • 43% have less than 10 years’ service in the company
  • 29% have 10-20 years’ service.
  • 13% have 20-30 years’ service
  • 15% have 30-40 years’ service 

Aviation has gone through substantial change over the last 10 years, as evidenced by the figures above, with airlines employing pilots at phenomenal rates. Obviously that has provided a lot of new members for the association and a lot of new blood in the industry. Very encouraging signs for aviation as well as Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers. NZALPA has been able to attract a very large majority of those individuals to our membership base, suggesting that there is a real understanding of our beliefs in mutual support for each other, and the promotion and support of the aviation profession. 

We have rightly become the Voice of Aviation in New Zealand. 

NZALPA is your organisation, and I don’t propose that lightly. The reason why NZALPA is so successful is that we are a member led, member driven organisation. This structure is cumbersome and expensive at times but is the way we ensure as Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers we remain at the forefront of our industry and continue to be that Voice of Aviation in New Zealand. I was surprised to read recently that a number of members were concerned that delegates may be politicising the organisation – NZALPA is a political organisation and as such operates under some very strict rules both in its operation and its processes. 

This editorial is then written to provide a number of the members with the outline of your organisation. If you do not have a copy of the rules and the policy that govern NZALPA, then you can download them from the website or contact the office to get a copy (please read them). They are two of the three documents that should be carried in every flight bag or lie on the consul of every ATC cab, the third text being your contract of employment. Members pay a high fee to be a participant in this organisation, so why would you not have a good working knowledge of all three documents? 

What NZALPA is not (evidenced by the substantial debate) is a single issue, single vision “old boys club”. In fact the opposite is evidenced by those in the engine rooms of the union, these areas being dominated by young, intelligent, ardent aviators at all council levels. Council is where the work is done in achieving and maintaining the terms and conditions that we enjoy in our profession. This is where our predecessors negotiated and strategised to attain the terms and conditions of employment that we enjoy today. What I have observed in the last few years is the absence of the more long standing members and aviators sitting around the council tables. This suggests to me that the industry is being guided by and is in very capable hands led by the upcoming members within our employee councils. This is tremendously positive for NZALPA as it demonstrates that the future of our employment agreements is in good hands, as those newer members set the agenda for the future further protection of those who come behind us. 

Our job as members though is to support these council teams that have been elected by their peers.

I sit in a very privileged position where I get to see the amount of work (the majority in their own time) that is undertaken for our association by these council groups. Most enquiries are one on one explanations where individuals are patiently stepped through issues that, in reality, if they had spent the time reading the three documents listed above would have saved the phone call or email in the first place. From my viewpoint, there is very rarely a member who asks a question of their council that is not provided with clarification and information. 

Our annual conference concluded last month with a number of delegates taking up new positions. Congratulations to you all. Also thank you to the delegates to Conference 2019 and to those who have stood down. 

Conference is the highest ruling body of our association – delegates are called for from across the membership and over three days the association is given remits from the membership as a whole for debate and inclusion in our rules and policies. This is also where the budgets and fees are set. Conference is currently held annually but this year’s Conference considered a move to biennial conferences looking forward. Conference is where members can put their names forward and have direct input into our futures. 

The Board of Management sits on a bimonthly basis with the ability to move to monthly meetings based on its workload. The board is appointed in accordance with the rules and provides a governance structure for the Principle Officers and the staff in between conferences.

The work of the association that most members see is generally that of the councils. Each council is elected from their respective employee groups. These are individual silos that are bridged by the Principle Officer teams, guided by the rules and policies authorised by the conference of members. 

Over the years I have spent serving the organisation this structure has served NZALPA well. There has been some very robust debate over the last 25 years, ranging across a number of areas and political spectrums. 

The core reason I have chosen to write this as my first update to the membership is so that I can focus on those who are new to this chamber, those who have not been involved before. In my annual report commentary I provided an invite and a challenge to all members to ensure you are actively involved with your organisation. I asked that all members at least attend a board of management meeting or a council meeting in the next 12 months. 

This is your organisation; councils are elected to manage your contract with your employer. All members attending a council meeting can participate fully in the meeting, other than not being eligible to vote on motions. If a member wants to raise a new topic, this can be done by giving a heads-up to the council head so as to get an issue put on the agenda. 

I was therefore disappointed to see some of the unsigned fabricated emails and texts distributed amongst members last year - deliberately written to undermine these various groups and representatives. There are and were no hidden agendas or skewing of information.  Individuals need to have read the rules and policies to have understood this cannot occur. I would suggest the individuals responsible had not done so or were unaware of these documents.

Arguments are generally well developed and extensively debated before an organisational position is arrived at in all of the councils and board meetings that I have been able to spend time with. Concerns that resolutions are made behind closed doors by single individuals are unfounded. All decisions (especially the most contentious) are debated to the highest of levels before being disseminated to the membership. Most members would be surprised at the levels of debate within the various caucuses. All members are welcome to participate in these debates. Many meetings I’ve attended have had a gallery of members coercing representatives to vote a certain way or to evoke a different strategy. 

So - please turn up to show your support, introduce yourself to the staff and make sure you understand how your organisation can work most effectively for all of us over the next few years. 

We are successful because we are a member owned and member led organisation. Please read the association’s rules, policies and your employment contract.



Attached Files

Comments are closed.

<< July 2019 General Manager's note >>