MP queries overseas hiring plan after layoffs
Marlborough MP Colin King is challenging Air New Zealand to justify applying to recruit aircraft engineers overseas at the same time as laying them off from Safe Air at Woodbourne.
Air New Zealand applied to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to bring in overseas aircraft engineer a week after the airline's subsidiary Safe Air announced it would let go 69 workers.
Mr King said the airline was a private-public partnership with majority taxpayer ownership and could be expected to offer Kiwis jobs first. He would question Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and State Owned Enterprise Minister Tony Ryall in Parliament about the application to recruit overseas.
If redundant staff lacked desired skills, Air New Zealand should look at training then transferring them to where there was a need.
Safe Air staff were some of the highest paid workers in Marlborough but the community must be pragmatic if these skilled people moved to areas with the greatest hope of employment, Mr King said.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the 69 people hit by the Safe Air restructure lacked the skills being sought overseas, but their qualifications were confidential. Most vacancies were with the company's Altitude Aerospace business which did customised fit-outs for private jets and some were information technology roles.
Air New Zealand's application was to bring in university-qualified avionic engineers as well as engineers with expertise in design, structures and interiors, aeronautics, software and automation, she said.
Strachan Crang, of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, said Air New Zealand asked for union feedback on its application to the ministry to bring in overseas aircraft engineers, the week after announcing the Safe Air redundancies.
"The accreditation process wasn't created so companies could sack workers one day then bring in overseas workers the next," he said.
Aviation engineering staff made redundant at Safe Air included people trained in avionics, aircraft mechanics and structures, he said.
Air New Zealand made changes to the original list in the version it gave to the media including stating that avionic engineers required a degree and removing structural and interior engineers.
"They are splitting hairs to justify themselves," Mr Crang said.
The Careers NZ website suggests that chances of gaining employment as an aircraft engineer in New Zealand are average because of steady numbers of workers and low staff turnover.
- The Marlborough Express