9 Sep 2005

Air Vanuatu CEO denies targetting unionists in job cuts

3:30 pm on 9 September 2005

Air Vanuatu's CEO, Terry Kerr, has dismissed suggestions the airline terminated 26 jobs this week in retaliation for union action.

The union has issued the government with an eight-day ultimatum to Air Vanuatu to reinstate the 26 employees, and allow dispute procedures over previously aired issues to take course.

The union delegate for Air Vanuatu workers, Joseph Neil, one of the 26 staff to be sacked admits the terminations were technically legal but suggests they were a response to unionists.

But Mr Kerr says he has had a mandate to restructure the company since taking on the chief executive role and the job terminations were part of that.

"Some of our staff are union members which we have no problems with at all. But just because the union got in and called a strike during that period, they may find that... well, I don't even see it being coincidental because it was already planned but they may have their own ideas on it. But as far as we're concerned, we're going through a restructuring period and it's as simple as that."