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Massey Flight Instructors' Industrial Action Continues

2 April 2019

After months of industrial action, an unresponsive employer, and an industry desperate for trainers, NZALPA tells of the frustration, delay tactics and minimal offers around top instructors’ expired employment agreement.

Despite a world-wide pilot shortage and after enduring what staff have described as “the worst morale ever experienced,” the union representing flight instructors employed at the Massey University School of Aviation has finally spoken out about its employment dispute. 


With negotiations having gone on for almost a year, including five months of industrial action, New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) President Tim Robinson said that any industrial action was very reluctantly taken by loyal and hard-working aviation professionals. 


However, he said, a number of the school’s flight instructors had been left with few alternatives.   


“Massey University’s aviation training school has long been admired for its leadership and the way it respected and rewarded its staff.  But now we have management refusing to meet top flying trainer’s needs and pay the market rate; preferring to delay any discussions until well after the current Collective Agreement (CA) expires,” Tim Robinson said.


Robinson said that following limited industrial action begun in late 2018, only small pay increase offers of between 1.3% and 1.5% have been offered to their top level flying instructors. Despite intervention from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) asking parties to attend mediation, Massey has repeatedly refused to do so for over five months.  


“The 1.3% and 1.5% rates offered are well below negotiated rates for other pilot and aviation industry CA settlements over the last 12 months and below Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecasts for 2020 and 2021 (which are both over 2% respectively).


“With this offer pilots couldn’t even keep up with the cost of living,” said Robinson. 


“Meanwhile, a number of experienced trainers have left, while others are preparing to follow them out the door to better-paying jobs.  This leaves less experienced staff left to pick up training duties, including being paid less than others in the market to do the same job. 


“This is unacceptable, not just for employee rights, but this lack of experience and support is not what you would expect for an industry that prides itself on putting the safety of both pilots and the wider public first.


“In addition, Massey pays instructors with several years experience only two thirds of the rate recommended in a Government report compiled following industry consultation - a report that Massey itself contributed to.”    


NZALPA also understands that management at Massey has told instructors incorrectly that Massey could not legally attend mediation while under the threat of a strike. 


“This follows on from Massey taking action such as unilateral changes to the working conditions of Graduate Flight Instructors, many of whom are also expected to pick up the tasks of more experienced instructors who’ve departed.”


“Instructors who are members of NZALPA are also to be subject to a new rostering system.  This means that they have to work four weekends out of six, instead of just the one as they do now.”


“We need Massey management to take this situation seriously and do the right thing by both paying and playing fair.   They need to put the needs of their most important asset – their workers – first,” Tim Robinson said.




Media contact:  Lisa-Marie Richan 027 278 0441


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