Union angered by Air NZ application for foreign workers

A Union in New Zealand has reacted angrily to the news that Air New Zealand has applied for official approval to hire workers from overseas.

The airline has asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for approval through the Employer Accreditation scheme to bring in skilled aircraft engineers from overseas, citing a shortage of suitably qualified domestic workers.

However, the move has prompted the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EMPU) to raise questions on how committed the company is to hiring local workers – especially after one of its subsidiaries, Safe Air, last week announced that it had to let 69 workers go and proposes to lay off a further 190 employees in Auckland due to a lack of work.

“We’re absolutely stunned by Air New Zealand’s actions,” says Strachan Crang, EPMU Assistant Director of Organising. “Kiwi aircraft engineers are losing their jobs, and Air New Zealand has the gall to tell MBIE that they need to be able to fast-track immigration for overseas workers.”

“If Air New Zealand were to get this approval it would create a mockery of the Employer Accreditation status programme,” says Strachan Crang. “The accreditation process wasn’t created so companies could sack workers one day and then bring in overseas workers the next.”

The Employer Accreditation scheme is run by Immigration New Zealand and is open to New Zealand employers who are unable to find ‘suitably qualified and/or experienced’ New Zealand workers. One of the key requirements for accreditation is that an organisation shows ‘a commitment to training and employing New Zealand residents’.

Article published 15th October 2013