Threats by the Aviation Security Service (AvSec) that striking workers could be locked out are a classic example of a public service employer playing hardball, backed by an anti-worker government.
Aviation security workers have been negotiating a new collective agreement for a year, but these negotiations seem to have stalled when their employer suggested an agreement that wouldn’t give some staff a pay rise for three years, and for others would be just $2 a week more.
This would be the first time aviation security officers have gone on strike in 30 years. They decided to strike in 3-hour blocks at Auckland and Wellington airport, and to refuse overtime at Christchurch airport. In response, their employer has said striking workers could be locked out, a move which the PSA an E Tū unions say is illegal. The lock outs could happen at airports where the staff aren’t even striking, like Dunedin and Queenstown.
John Key said he’d send in the Police to staff the airport security checkpoints during the strikes. That seems to have given AvSec a nod and a wink that they shouldn’t worry about their workers striking – or locking them out – because the Government will support the employer.
No matter that the Police Association has, rightly, said it would be inappropriate for Police to staff the airport security checkpoints during the strikes.
It’s a sad day when the Government encourages public service employers to play hardball instead of negotiating fairly with their staff to ensure fair pay and fair working conditions.
Remember this is the same Government that showed contempt for aviation security when Cabinet Minister Gerry Brownlee sidestepped a security checkpoint.
As a public sector employer, AvSec is required to be a “good employer”.
I hope when the unions and the employer meet for mediation next week, they can reach an agreement. Aviation security staff do a very important job. Let’s make sure they’re paid fairly.