Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) aircraft maintenance workers have decided to take industrial action against the carrier and this may result in flight cancellations next month.

The two unions representing ANZ’s 1,500 maintenance workers were unable to reach an agreement with the airline over wages, says Andrew Little, national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), which represents 1,000 of ANZ’s maintenance workers.

The other union – which is teaming up with the EPMU- is the Aviation and Maritime Engineers Association, which represents 500 maintenance workers.

ANZ is offering workers 3.4% per annum over a 28-month period but the workers want a 5.8% per annum pay rise for a two-year term, says Little.

The issue is coming to a head now because the last wages agreement expired at the end of March, says Little.

Talks have been going on since then and no agreement has been reached, resulting in the workers voting to take industrial action, says Little, who adds that the union has notified the authorities there would be industrial action starting 9 May.

He says for the first week of industrial action workers will refuse to do overtime and in the second week they will refuse to do certain work.

If the dispute goes into the second week “there will be some disruptions to the schedule” of ANZ flights, he adds.

 ANZ 747
 © Air New Zealand

The airline’s offer to increase wages by 3.4% per annum is in line with the country’s inflation rate for the first quarter of this year. The New Zealand Government’s national statistics unit says inflation for the first quarter rose 3.4% year-on-year.

In recent years ANZ has been striving to cut costs in an effort to be more internationally competitive but as a consequence it has come into conflict with its unions.

Last month pilots at regional subsidiary Air Nelson went on strike over the airline’s roster and wages. Last year Air Nelson was involved in a dispute with its maintenance workers over wages. In 2006 ANZ had a dispute with ground handlers over outsourcing of jobs and in 2005 ANZ had a wages dispute with its long-haul cabin crew.

ANZ’s latest industrial maelstrom comes after it earlier this month announced it would fail to achieve its fiscal 2007 earnings forecast because of recent increases in fuel prices.

The airline’s spokespeople were unavailable for comment.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news

Source: Flight International