New Zealand’s national flag carrier, Air New Zealand, has told over 1,300 of its cabin crew that they will lose their jobs. The announcement was made today by the organization representing the flight attendants union E tū. It follows on from Air New Zealand saying back in March that it would cut staffing levels by 30%.
E tū, an amalgamation of the Service & Food Workers Union, the Flight Attendants Union and Related Services Union, said that the cabin crew was told about the redundancies yesterday.
950 redundancies will come from mid-haul and long-haul crew
Of the flight attendants being let go, 950 will be from Air New Zealand’s mid and long-haul crew. As well as these, 300 domestic team members based in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington will face losing their jobs. The news follows on from the Kiwi airline’s announcement on Monday that 300 engineering and maintenance jobs will have to go.
When speaking to Radio New Zealand (RNZ) one cabin crew member affected by the cuts who wanted to remain anonymous, said they were “absolutely devastated by the news.” They commented,
“Air New Zealand values its staff less than its profit and shareholders, which so sad to see unfold. The company’s process has been rushed, overbearing, heavy-handed, and uncompromising. I don’t believe the feedback in the consultation process was ever truly evaluated or applied.”
When speaking to RNZ about the layoffs, Assistant National Secretary for E tū, Rachel Mackintosh, said workers are “gutted.”
“They have committed years to making Air New Zealand a world-class airline, only to be out of work with huge uncertainties about on-going careers in their industry.”
The University of Auckland graduate said that she wanted to see the people being made redundant hired back first when the global aviation industry recovers adding,
“E tū is calling for Air New Zealand, other companies, and the government to rebuild better – making sure we keep and create decent jobs and have union members involved in all decisions.”
Some Air New Zealand staff are being offered furloughs
RNZ’s weekday drive-time news program Checkpoint is saying that some of Air New Zealand’s international staff are being offered the opportunity to go on leave. If Air New Zealand staff select this option, they will receive no redundancy payment but will be the first hired back once the coronavirus crisis is over. The catch here is that those selecting the furlough option have no idea as to when Air New Zealand will look to expand as it recovers.
The very idea that only some cabin crew and not all will be offered the furlough option has angered many of the flight attendants who are calling it unfair and akin to ransom. For its part, a spokesperson for Air New Zealand told TVNZ 1 News,
“Our staff have been able to seek clarity on all questions they may have about the proposed changes to their employment.
“In addition to more than 700 meetings with managers, we have run 128 Live Streams for staff since the 16th of March.
“We will continue to have constructive discussions with our staff and our four unions as we work to protect Air New Zealand’s future and do our best to retain the 9,000 jobs that remain.”
Thousands of Airline staff will lose their jobs
Unfortunately, the Air New Zealand cabin crew are not alone, with thousands of airline employees around the world losing their jobs due to COVID-19.
As we look at who was made redundant and who kept their jobs, it will be interesting to see how Air New Zealand and other carriers went about the process. Looking at it objectively, the right thing to do would be to lay off the employees who were hired last (last in first out). It is hard not to imagine some airlines looking at the coronavirus as an excuse to get rid of its higher-paid employees and those with the most seniority.
What do you think, will the cuts be done reasonably, or will it be based on money? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.