25 Mar 2009

Pay differences with Air NZ unfair, say striking crews

7:05 pm on 25 March 2009

Pay differences between Air New Zealand long-haul flight attendants and cabin crews of subsidiary Zeal 320 Ltd are unfair and the reason for strike action beginning next month, says the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union.

About 250 flight attendants who work for the Air New Zealand subsidiary plan to walk off the job for four days beginning on 8 April.

They say they do the same job as Air New Zealand-employed cabin crew but are paid tens of thousands of dollars less.

Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union spokesperson Strachan Crang says Zeal 320 workers have been offered a very small pay increase, and are aiming for parity.

But Air New Zealand spokesperson Glen Sowry says long-haul cabin crew receive significant allowances to offset their expenses from overseas stop-overs.

Mr Sowry says the strike action will cause minimal disruption to its customers. He says the company has contingency plans in place and is expecting no more than minimal customer disruption.

Mr Sowry says two offers were made before the talks fell apart.

However, travel agents say the Government may need to get involved because of the uncertainty and potential for disruption caused by the dispute.

Kirsty Hamilton, an in-flight service manager for Zeal 320, says many flight attendants cannot afford to live on the wages the company has offered.

The strike action follows six months of pay negotiations.