New beginnings at Air New Zealand
NZALPA President Andrew Ridling, IFALPA Director (and immediate past President) Tim Robinson and I recently met the outgoing and incoming Chairs of Air New Zealand - Tony Carter and Dame Therese Walsh respectively. We had asked for that meeting to discuss NZALPA’s ongoing relationship with the airline’s Chief Executive and the qualities that we consider most important in the person holding that role. In that context we also wanted to note the recent achievements that have been made with High Performance Engagement (HPE) and the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between NZALPA and Air New Zealand that has elevated the relationship between us.
Tony Carter confirmed that the Board was committed to taking HPE to the next level and ensuring a continued collaborative relationship with NZALPA and other unions. The nine-year MOU between NZALPA and the company was also given particular special mention as an outstanding achievement and something which the board was particularly pleased with as a good example of what can be achieved.
Regional Air New Zealand Collective Agreement
Another excellent example of what can be achieved when we work collaboratively with our employers on strategic objectives is the RANCAP (Regional Air New Zealand Collective Agreement Pilots), which was ratified on 2 October 2019.
This agreement is the culmination of years of work by NZALPA over successive collective agreements, finally resulting in negotiations over the past 12 - 18 months to secure a single collective agreement covering all regional Air New Zealand pilots (i.e. Mount Cook and Air Nelson pilots). There are clear benefits achieved by bringing all pilots under one agreement, including having one employer (Air New Zealand) of all regional pilots, career pathways within the Air New Zealand Group, activation of the Regional Seniority List, common terms and conditions, flexible flying, and enhanced redundancy entitlements to name but a few.
Comparisons with the Australian aviation environment
Our recent successes appear to be in stark contrast to what many of our colleagues across the Tasman are experiencing with their employers. I recently attended the annual Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) Convention, where it was clear that industrial relations still have a long way to go when compared to our experience in New Zealand.
At a time when Qantas is experiencing record profits, but appears to have no intention of raising the benefits and wages for its various pilot groups (even where they are clearly well below their competitors), the theme of AFAP’s Convention was “Valuing Our Relationships” where importance was placed on improving communications and relationships, even in the face of disagreement. The Convention heard from all of their pilot Councils (Jetstar, Cobham, Helicopters, National (GA), Rex, Tiger, Virgin, Eastern and Sunstate) and the challenges faced by each of these pilot groups were all similar. For example, failures by their employers to honour side agreements; compliance issues; problems implementing agreements; difficulties and delays in progressing negotiations; ineffective and obstructive management; undermining of entitlements and practices. The sense of frustration was clear in the room and the stories that were told echoed NZALPA’s experiences over previous years. The difference, however, is that for the most part we are now able to work more collaboratively with our employers under a more favourable industrial legislative landscape, where employers here are starting to take notice of Air New Zealand’s approach in working with NZALPA to resolve issues as they arise and are beginning to see the value in alternative ways of resolving problems, including via interest-based bargaining.
Whilst we will always have more work to do to improve our relationships, we are well ahead of our Australian colleagues in this regard, as evidenced by the quality of collective agreements we have achieved.
New faces at NZALPA
We have some new faces at ALPA House: Carina Pretorius greets visitors and callers in our reception; Celia Gibson is the new Legal Secretary in charge of the day-to-day needs of our legal staff; Advocate Rachel Piriou and Solicitor John Hall in the legal department. Rachel is assisting Adam with bargaining, as well as looking after Jetconnect and the Air New Zealand regional pilots, while John is working with Richard in the litigation department. We welcome the new staff and look forward to introducing them to you as they provide you with your member services.
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