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.

Daily breach of contracts will not become the new normal

Solving the issues around systemic breaches of Mt Cook Airlines and Air Nelson members’ terms and conditions remains high on the agenda for the legal team at NZALPA.

“There is growing frustration around the contract breaches and continuous pressure on the pilots who work for the Links.  It is important that these are reported and employers are held responsible for the breaches and their resolution,” NZALPA Legal Advocate Mark Dignan said.

Dignan says that many of today’s issues stem from the most-recent schedule changes - a marketing-driven operation that has led to increased pressure on the regional services.

For pilots, time spent away from home and sub-optimal accommodation conditions ultimately have an impact on stress levels, cause fatigue and therefore impacts on the level of safety of the pilots, air crew and members of the travelling public.

“The regional airports are often the most stressful for take-off and landing, often due to being in uncontrolled airspace and use by flying schools and recreational craft. This makes the conditions included in pilots’ contracts even more important,” Dignan said.

“NZALPA finds it unacceptable that members are regularly experiencing breaches of time off and rest, and accommodation provisions.”

Dignan said that the employers were aware that they were routinely breaching the contracts, which previously were only occasional one-off, “out-of-the-norm”, operational issues.

“Once, flying regionally for the Links had been a desirable job for pilots looking to prioritise their life/work balance, but this is no longer the reality.”

NZALPA understands that increased numbers of flights and sky-rocketing tourism levels have put challenges around regional accommodation options and room availability, highlighting the need for better forward planning.  In a recent case, two pilots were booked overnight into a camping ground.

“This is simply not acceptable and makes an absolute mockery of the standards set out in our pilots’ contracts.   This type of behaviour has serious impacts on stress and fatigue levels. Quality accommodation is absolutely vital to ensure quality rest and the safety of the crew and the travelling public and should be a requirement that is never breached,” Dignan said.

NZALPA General Manager Dawn Handforth met this month with Air New Zealand senior management to further discuss these concerns and how the parties can address the issues prior to commencing both Links Collective Employment Agreement (CEA) negotiations. 

“As a members’ organisation, we believe there is much to be gained from the Links becoming one entity.  This will mean further discussions with Air New Zealand to  ensure we put an end to these breaches and secure employment  by being involved in appropriate change from the beginning while protecting the terms and conditions of pilots’  contracts.

“However, resolution relies on how informed we are on these breaches, so it is imperative for members to report all incidences to NZALPA and their employer.”

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