Unions claim lockout is “illegal”

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Two unions embroiled in a battle over a new collective agreement have criticized their employer’s proposed lockout as “illegal and irresponsible.”

The Aviation Security Service gave formal notice yesterday afternoon that it may lock out employees whose unions plan to take industrial action – the lockout notices will take effect over an eight day period from 20 to 27 July.

"This is an extraordinary step and one that gravely concerns us," said E tū national organiser Kelvin Ellis. "The lockout notices cover eight days including the final days of the school holidays, and they also affect Queenstown and Dunedin airports - which are not part of our industrial action."

However, John Kay – the Aviation Security Service’s acting chief executive – defended the move and said a lockout will only go ahead if next week’s negotiations are unsuccessful.

“This is a technical trigger point for us, not an end point and we have urgent mediation booked for 15 July,” he said. “We hope we can resolve this long-running dispute as soon as possible.

“It is disappointing that this situation has arisen as we believe Avsec’s remuneration offer is fair and reasonable,” he continued. “Avsec officers are paid more than comparable border protection officers – Customs and Quarantine.”
 
Kay revealed that two “solid” offers had already been rejected by the PSA and E tū members and said Avsec officers had enjoyed regular pay increases up until this negotiation stalled.
 
The same deal has been accepted and ratified by NUPE with 98 per cent of their members voting to accept it. 
 
The organisation also confirmed it was activating its contingency plan to potentially use outside trained staff to temporarily replace those locked out. It is likely these will be from other government agencies.

“Our primary focus is to ensure that this matter is brought to a conclusion in a timely fashion and to ensure safe and secure flights – especially during the school holiday period,” he added. “We will do all we can to maintain our service and minimise disruption.”

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