SFWU scores victory for new Air NZ workers

Published: Sun 14 Oct 2007 12:12 AM
SFWU scores victory for new Air NZ workers
New Air NZ front-line staff who join the Service and Food Workers Union cannot be forced to work “flexible” rosters on inferior conditions introduced earlier this year, the Employment Relations Authority has ruled.
Air NZ has been telling new workers in airport services they could be sacked if they are no longer able to work under the new rosters brought in under threat of outsourcing.
SFWU Northern Regional Secretary Jill Ovens says the Union took Air NZ to the Authority because the company was effectively threatening new workers that if they joined the SFWU, they would lose their jobs.
“This is because, under the Employment Relations Act, if you join a union, you join that union’s Collective.
“Our Collective has better rosters, meal and stocking allowances, and superior penal rates than those Air NZ has put in place under its so-called ‘in-house solution’. That’s why our members rejected the deal.”
Air NZ tried to argue that the new workers hold different positions to those covered by the SFWU CEA, even though the work was the same.
The Employment Relations Authority found that Air NZ misled new workers by leading them to believe the SFWU Collective had expired and that it did not cover the work they were performing.
In his determination Authority member Alastair Dumbleton said: “A collective agreement is the lifeblood of a union and its members. To represent incorrectly that the collective agreement is no longer effective is a serious and damaging misstatement.”
Mr Dumbleton was critical of Air NZ lawyers who he said should have known better.
Referring to Air NZ counsel Andrew Caisley, Mr Dumbleton said: “He submitted that Air NZ’s advice to new employees that the CEA had expired was ‘a simple statement of fact’. Simple it may be, but I find it is an untrue statement and it should now be corrected.”

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