Air NZ engineers accept deal

Air New Zealand engineers have voted for a new employment package that will save around 300 of their jobs.

The proposal keeps wide-body heavy maintenance work in New Zealand but will still see about 200 people lose their jobs and pay and shift pattern changes for the rest.

Members of the Aviation and Marine Engineering Association in Christchurch who had earlier narrowly rejected the proposal reconsidered and passed the plan.

National secretary George Ryde said the mood at yesterday's meetings was sombre.

"I think people are just relieved to get past this point. There's still much work to be done."

The association's 220 members at Air NZ's Christchurch engineering base were previously criticised by the airline and some of their colleagues who had voted for the proposal.

Other members, and members of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) at the Auckland base, approved the plan as the only way of preventing Air NZ from getting the work done overseas.

The 80 per cent Government-owned airline last night welcomed the news.

"This is a good decision for ANZES [Air New Zealand Engineering Services] and its staff, for Air New Zealand and for New Zealand itself," Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe said.

"The result of today's vote means that across the whole of ANZES there is two-thirds majority support for the new collective employment agreement and the reform," he said.

The vote saw 71 per cent support for the deal. Just over 90 per cent of the Christchurch engineers voted.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little also welcomed the decision by the engineers.

He said now the workers had made their concessions, it was up to Air NZ to build up the business.

But he was uncertain whether it was likely to win back business from Qantas, which used to have an engineering contract with Air NZ and has just announced that it, too, is looking at outsourcing engineering and maintenance work to cheaper countries.

Mr Ryde said workers would now consider whether to volunteer for redundancy.

He said the number of lost engineering jobs was more than 300 if 110 jobs in the aero-engine area were factored in. They were never part of the plan to retain some of the engineers.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said she was "absolutely delighted" with the outcome and congratulated the staff for working through the issues with the company.

- NZPA

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