21 Apr 2009

Air NZ staff told they will be locked out if strike starts

8:52 pm on 21 April 2009

Air New Zealand cabin crew due to strike over pay have been told by the airline they will be locked out.

Flight attendants employed by subsidiary Zeal 320 Ltd are scheduled to strike for four days, starting on Thursday, 7 May.

The workers are campaigning for pay parity with other Air New Zealand cabin crew.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says the strike will involve 240 flight attendants and affect all trans-Tasman and Pacific flights serviced by Air New Zealand's Airbus A320 fleet.

The union's national secretary, Andrew Little, says Zeal 320 continues to offer cabin crew tens of thousands of dollars less pay than crew directly employed by Air New Zealand.

"The only people who are employed by Zeal 320 are these flight

attendants because the company exists solely to exclude them from the terms and conditions other crew enjoy," he said.

"Even their managers are directly employed by Air New Zealand."

"It's an unethical use of corporate legal structures to deprive these

workers of decent conditions and the flight crew are quite rightly

taking this action in an attempt to level the playing field."

But Air New Zealand says it's quickly running out of patience with the EPMU.

It says the union is standing in the way of pay rises for its members.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson, Bruce Parton, says it defies belief the union would advise its members reject an almost four per cent base pay increase, given the economic climate.

"Qantas has this week announced 1750 redundancies and 26 aircrcaft put on the ground so this is not an industry that's in good shape. We're all struggling to keep tourists coming to this country," he said.

He says Air New Zealand will use fill-in staff should the strike go ahead.

This is the second time the EPMU has called a strike. The last one, at Easter, was cancelled.