MIKE MAGUIRE – Vice President
“Unprecedented”, “Decimated”, “Uncertain times”: words and descriptions, among many others, that all have become common language in the last 12 months while the world and, in particular, the tourism and aviation sectors deal with the ongoing effects of COVID-19.
I’m sure that the impact of the SARSCoV-2 virus will be well covered by other Principal Officers, so it is not my intention to repeat what others have written. I will, however, highlight the financial impact this has had on your union and the challenges we face as we continue to operate and represent members in our new normal for what is, essentially, an unknown period.
All of us have been affected in one form or another, but many of our colleagues have been subject to lifechanging decisions – whether they be employer-related or personal. Redundancy, furlough, leave without pay and early retirement have all been realities of 2020 and this, in turn, has had a dramatic impact on NZALPA’s subscriptions revenue.
Not only has our membership reduced, a number of our most senior pilot members in Air New Zealand – captains on high salaries who contribute the most to NZALPA financially per person – have chosen to take early retirement in order to help those pilots lower on the seniority totem pole to remain in, or return earlier to, paid employment. The appreciation for this unselfish gesture cannot be understated, but the unintended consequence of this is a further reduction in the subscriptions NZALPA collects.
Although our membership numbers remain high, our subscription revenue has almost halved. This has resulted in the appropriate fiscal response across the organisation, including the hard decision to make three staff members redundant. An additional staff member departed the organisation at the start of the Level 4 lockdown, with another leaving in November to pursue a new career opportunity. In both cases, we elected not to back-fill these roles under the current economic uncertainty. As we adjust to our new, leaner operational structure I urge all members to exercise courtesy and patience when contacting the ALPA office – know that everyone is doing their very best.
NZALPA finds itself in the precarious situation where a number of our senior leaders are looking to move on from leadership roles in the near future and consequently we will require our members across all spectrums of the aviation sector to get involved. Our forums and other media platforms are consistently active with well-considered questions and healthy debate, so why not embrace that passion by getting actively involved in NZALPA to help drive results for the greater good?
Stand for council or any of the Principal Officer positions that are held biennially. Although an industrial union, this is only one aspect of NZALPA’s structure. Maybe a position on the board of management is where your interests are best utilised, or any number of the member welfare portfolios such as PAN, PROSTAN, HIMS or Insurances.? If you are unsure of how to get involved, or simply wish to find out more about how your union runs, reach out and enquire. This is, after all, your union and a member-driven professional organisation.
As unpleasant and trying as the current situation is, aviation has always had more than its fair share of trials and tribulations. We will survive and come out the other side of this with a fresh perspective and, no doubt, plenty of opportunity to excel – hopefully making COVID-19 a memory that we refer to as “remember when?”.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish our entire membership and their families a happy and festive holiday season. Relax and enjoy a fantastic kiwi summer. Get out there, explore New Zealand and spend quality time with loved ones because, as 2020 has proven, you never know what’s on the horizon.
TIM ROBINSON – IFALPA Director
There have been few areas of the global aviation industry that haven’t been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – both in terms of the financial impact to our airlines and operators and the flow on disruptive effects to our pilot and air traffic control members.
Throughout the COVID-19 period, NZALPA has been keeping a watchful eye on developments within our IFALPA (International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations), IFATCA (International Federation of Air Traffic Control Associations) and ASAP (Association of Star Alliance Pilots) communities, to monitor and learn how other member associations have been coping and dealing with the consequences of COVID. Regular online meetings have continued to
“Your NZALPA representatives have taken a constructively strategic focus in representing your interests. We’ve had often tough talks with employers and, in the end, we have come to sensible and fair arrangements in light of the crisis the whole aviation sector is facing.”
occur within these forums to enable us to be briefed on strategies and approaches that our international colleagues have utilised. NZALPA, as always, has also provided useful advice and information within areas where we have successfully managed COVID-related issues for our NZALPA members.
Within our region, we have also been in regular discussion with our Australian and Asia-Pacific union colleagues to understand our respective airlines’ and operators’ positions, as well as developing ways to best address returning the industry to pre-COVID normality as quickly possible. The most practical way we have gone about this has been working with our New Zealand and Australian industry partners and stakeholders to try and influence Government and health authorities to open our region to safe travel bubbles. This work has included input from airlines, airports, security, regulators, tourism heads and frontline pilots and flight attendants. The primary thrust of this has been the work of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group. The recommendations from this group have gone to both the Australian and New Zealand Governments and many of the recommendations are already being put in place to enable the operation of open, bi-lateral travel bubbles as soon as Governments and health authorities give their sign off.
At Government and regulator level we have also continued to advocate and lobby for the best possible outcomes for our members – in particular with safe travel bubbles and international crew welfare as they continue to fly and keep New Zealand’s vital trade routes open and the ongoing safe operation, management and oversight of our industry.
These are our ongoing priorities as we move into 2021. The industry will recover post COVID and we are all optimistic that it will eventually bounce back to pre – COVID levels of operation and growth. Our role for our membership is make this occur as quickly, efficiently and safely as we can. We will use all our influence and capabilities within our industry, both locally and internationally, to achieve that.
Have a great Christmas and New Year.
ANDY PENDER – Medical & Welfare Director
Season’s greetings to readers as we round out the year that was 2020. This year gave us the opportunity to exercise what this organisation does best, mutual support. As soon as the pandemic’s effect was known a swarm of both members and representatives upped tools to call on those whose employment had been directly impacted. Countless hours were spent checking in on the 400 members who were now making plans on a temporary or permanent away from the aeroplane. Coordinating such a large phone tree effort could not have happened without Ange Cronin, Mark Mehlhopt or Herwin Bongers and the countless volunteers that dedicated their time to checking in on their colleagues.
Many members who were presented with the reality of redundancy found a silver lining in countless transferrable skills outside the flight deck that were sought after in the outside world. The Medical and Welfare team was kept busy connecting members seeking work, with those in desperate need of disciplined, hard working staff. Thanks to the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Rural Contractors Association and the National Road Carriers Association countless redeployment opportunities were identified for NZALPA members.
At the tail end of this year, we bid farewell to one of NZALPA’s longest serving staff members, Welfare Support Officer Pamela Hutton. Pamela kept the cogs turning in the Medical and Welfare machine, provided a friendly, calming voice on the end of the phone for members when they were in need, and was a much loved member of staff over her 20 years with the union. Her skillset built around an empathetic understanding of members insurance, and aviation medicine needs will be hard to replace, but the support she lay down for members will be fondly remembered for years to come.
As we look toward 2021, I am confident having seen 2020 out we are in good stead to continue providing for members. The last year has taught us a lot, but seeing as we made it through a huge test in fortitude, one of NZALPA’s integral parts of its DNA – looking out for your mates in their time of need -will once again see us through whatever 2021 has to throw at us.
I am hoping the roster, or new job, will allow you to have some time around the people that matter to you this Christmas. Fly, control, or do whatever the new employment climate has thrown at you safely these holidays.
HUGH FARIS – Technical Director
2020 will most certainly be a year we will all remember, yet one we will all wish to forget. Never in the history of commercial aviation has the industry been devastated to such a degree. In the 40 years I have been involved in the industry it has seemingly lurched from one crisis to the next, yet nothing compares to the crisis we are currently experiencing.
The global shut down of air transport as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions has had a catastrophic impact on employment. To date, some 4.8 million industry jobs have been lost with many more under threat. It is estimated that New Zealand alone will lose approximately 130,000 jobs in the aviation and tourism sector, with 4100 job losses directly related to aviation, and possibly more yet to come.
Sadly, the impact of COVID-19 will continue to impact our profession and our lives for many years to come. It is truly disheartening to see so many of our colleagues leaving the industry – many permanently – long before their time.
For those who remain, the pandemic brings with it many challenges as we navigate our way through the turmoil of operating in this new and unfamiliar environment. These challenges up the ante when it comes to safety management and the associated risks of reduced flying schedules, type conversions, crew currency, cargo operations without cabin crew and significant isolation requirements both at home and at overseas ports. These issues combined with repetitive COVID swab testing creates an unwanted distraction and adds significant stress for all.
Already we are seeing an increase in reported incidents around the ramp and aircraft operations. We must remain extremely vigilant and cognisant of any ‘Red Flags’ in our operations.
In addition, the financial impact for airlines cannot be understated, with IATA reporting that the airline industry globally will burn through $77 billion USD in cash during the second half of 2020 (almost $13 billion/month). Here in New Zealand, airlines, airports and airways are scrambling to do whatever they can to stem the haemorrhaging of cash to survive. Many airport infrastructure expansion plans have been delayed – or cancelled altogether. Airlines have either slashed their headcount significantly or, in the case of Virgin, shut down completely.
In what is probably the most audacious response to the pandemic, and most concerning to NZALPA Technical, Airways has announced its plans to withdraw air traffic services (ATS) from seven regional airports throughout New Zealand. Civil Aviation Authority rules require an aeronautical study to be carried out at aerodromes whenever a significant change in the operational environment of an aerodrome is proposed. As a result, the NZALPA technical team has been busy along with our ATC colleagues identifying the associated risks and participating in the various aeronautical studies and risk workshops required as a result of the Airways’ proposal.
NZALPA does not believe that safety will not be compromised by the removal of ATS without a thorough safety risk analysis being undertaken, using bona fide risk assessment methodology in accordance with both New Zealand and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, New Zealand legislation and recommended practices and surety that all risks are adequately mitigated.
It is critically important that we do not allow this current pandemic to undermine the exceptionally high safety standards we have developed over many years within the aviation industry making it one of the safest modes of transport on the planet.
Looking back over the year that’s been, it could be referred to as our “Annus Horribilis”.
In the words of the 90’s band D:Ream, “It can only get better”.
Have a safe and peaceful festive season and look forward to a much happier New Year.
KELVIN VERCOE – ATC Director
As I’ve also written an article about Airways’ questionable decision making during and since COVID lockdown, I thought I’d use this opportunity to look at the bigger picture of Unionism, collectivism, and the greater sister and brotherhoods we are part of in New Zealand.
Many of us, as NZALPA members, are privileged to be employed under collective agreements which contain hard fought terms and conditions, including provisions for fair remuneration in excess of a living wage and generous redundancy entitlements in the event of both voluntary and involuntary redundancy exits.
Due to the obvious effects of COVID-19, these redundancy provisions have been used by some of our employers. Whilst it is unfortunate that any of our members have been made redundant, having redundancy entitlements in our collective agreements which contained detailed and beneficial provisions such as redundancy compensation and preferential rights to reemployment, was obviously better than the alternative which many other workers faced in the same situation. Given that some of our redundant and furloughed members are now working in other industries, it’s a good time to spare a thought for the vast majority of workers in New Zealand that do not have collective agreements or mutually negotiated terms and conditions in their individual employment agreements, or who cannot even get their employers to engage in genuine good faith bargaining for a collective agreement.
For example, many supermarket workers and their unions attempting to negotiate living wages are hampered by their employers’ determination to keep their employees on individual contracts, and pay only the minimum wage or close to it.
A clear example of the disregard for the potentially life-threatening work these folks have done during New Zealand’s higher COVID levels, is the temporary pay rise that was given to front line supermarket workers (during Level 4 lockdown), which was subsequently rescinded as soon as possible in many cases. In this regard, we could assist our fellow workers simply by choosing where we shop.
Following sustained union and worker industrial pressure, Countdown recently announced that it was implementing a living wage for its employees with 12 months or more service. By contrast, in the South Island, many workers employed in Foodstuffs owner-operated supermarkets have had trouble even starting bargaining, with one in my home town having been unsuccessfully bargaining with their employer for five years! So, why not get political about the simple tasks we do every day, such as grocery shopping, if it is going to help others? In Union there is Strength, and that goes well past just being an NZALPA member.
I’ve only mentioned one industry that could benefit from us understanding the barriers to New Zealand workers being employed on fair and reasonable collective contracts, but there’s many more. Positive change needs to start somewhere, so let’s help it.
Have a safe and happy Christmas.
ANDREW MCKEEN – Industrial Director
We are approaching the end of another year and generally that’s a time for reflection. For NZALPA and its Members, 2020 has been all about the effects of COVID-19.
Although our employers have taken significant steps to reduce costs many are fixed, or semi-fixed, at least in the short-term. The result is that costs have not reduced as fast as revenues have. The industry has simply been unable to reduce costs sufficiently to stop ‘burning cash’.
Some of the forecasts earlier in the year (considered perhaps very pessimistic at the time) suggesting a recovery to preCOVID-19 traffic volumes taking until 2024-2025 now seem more likely. The only accurate forecast is that no one really knows. This remains an extremely tough and unprecedented period for our industry.
Your NZALPA representatives have taken a constructively strategic focus in representing your interests. We’ve had often tough talks with employers and, in the end, we have come to sensible and fair arrangements in light of the crisis the whole aviation sector is facing.
I want to specifically acknowledge the Members who have taken some form of voluntary measure. Each Member who has volunteered to work less or prematurely end their career has done so because he or she wants to assist colleagues keep their jobs. This truly is a demonstration of our unity.
2021 has an uncertain outlook but I am confident that NZALPA is well placed as an organisation and is resourced with an exceptionally talented group of volunteer Members and staff employees who will continue to advocate on your behalf.
Please all take a moment to unwind and enjoy time with family and friends this festive season. I wish all our Members and industry partners a Merry Christmas and happy and safe New Year.
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