A lack of New Zealand government action to support the manufacturing sector is being blamed for plans by Air New Zealand to cut 180 jobs in Auckland.
The national carrier has confirmed plans to do away with the engineering jobs at its wide body aircraft heavy maintenance facility next year and is in talks with staff.
It says the move reflects an expected fall in future demand for wide body maintenance services from within Air New Zealand and from external customers.
“This is largely due to Air New Zealand and its customers introducing more modern aircraft to their fleets, which require less frequent maintenance,” a spokeswoman said.
A final decision is due in October.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union said it would work with the airline to keep jobs in the country but a plan by Air NZ to outsource the upgrade of its Boeing 777-200 fleet should be scrapped.
Union spokesman Strachan Crang said the high NZ dollar had affected the ability of the facility to compete despite the best efforts of the workers.
“Over the past three years, they’ve delivered productivity gains in the double figures but this has all been eaten away by the high value of the New Zealand dollar,” he said.
Opposition parties said blame for the job cuts, the third recent retrenchment in the aircraft maintenance industry, lay with the government rather than the airline.
“(Prime Minister) John Key needs to look these workers in the eye and tell them why he has done nothing to bring down the dollar and save their jobs,” said Greens co-leader Russel Norman.
Labour finance spokesman David Parker says the cuts were an indictment of the government’s lack of ideas to boost employment.
“Kiwis deserve to have well-paid secure jobs, but they fear for their positions more than ever. Aircraft engineers are the type of highly skilled workers New Zealand needs to retain,” he said.