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Current as of 30/03/17 07:40PM NZST

Pay 'priority' for Air NZ Chinese crew

By Lincoln Tan

Air New Zealand's Shanghai manager has told his Chinese crew that their pay review will be given "top priority" and they will be given credit cards from this week to solve issues with their meal allowances.

The assurance - in an internal staff memo obtained by the Herald - comes after the paper reported that crew based in Shanghai received a quarter of their New Zealand colleagues' pay and a third of their away-from-home allowances.

Last year, 59 of the 64 Chinese crew wrote a letter to Air New Zealand complaining of inequitable work conditions and having their meal allowance restricted to the hotel they stayed in and one Chinese restaurant.

The Herald also has a copy of another undated letter from the Shanghai crew to an Air NZ manager, appealing for better conditions, including human rights and freedom.

In an internal memo to the Shanghai-based crew last Friday, Air NZ's Shanghai manager Darrin Curtis said: "I know that some of you are frustrated at the apparent lack of movement with your pay review. I can assure you this is being given top priority."

On the issue with meal allowances, he said: "Our intention is to issue credit cards ... we should see crew being issued their credit cards after training next week."

Their allowance is now paid only if they have meals at the Dragon Boat restaurant or the Crowne Plaza Hotel when they are in Auckland.

Other Air NZ crew received $175 cash in the hand for every day they were away from home.

Air NZ has warned its crew against talking to news media since the Weekend Herald report about the pay gap.

In Mr Curtis' first email to the crew when the story broke, he said: "No one in the crew base is authorised to talk to the media". He advised the crew against discussing media reports with passengers but "do listen to what people are saying around them".

"If a passenger asks you about the article, politely inform them it is company policy not to respond, [and] don't assume by switching to either English or Chinese that our passengers won't be able to understand you."

Yesterday, crew members in Auckland did not want to comment when approached by the Herald, saying they had been warned by the airline not to speak to reporters.

"They [Air NZ] have been ringing us one by one to warn us," an air stewardess said.

But in Mr Curtis' email to the crew, he said: "The purpose of our call is to check that you are OK, as sometimes the media reporting can be upsetting."

- NZ Herald

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