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Image: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand strikes

Separate strikes called to coincide with Christmas are causing uproar among management and passengers alike.

Several hundred pilots working for Virgin Atlantic say they will strike for four days in the run-up to Christmas Day in an effort to gain recognition for their union.

The Professional Pilots’ Union claims it has been trying to get Virgin to recognise it but the airline has “consistently refused”. The airline argues that it recognises the British Airline Pilots Association to represent its pilots.

The call to strike is set for December 22 to 25 and comes after the Professional Pilots’ Union said that 71.5% of votes approved a strike on a 72% turnout.

A further two four-day walkouts are also scheduled, starting December 30 and January 4.

“A small number of our pilots have voted for industrial action,” Virgin Atlantic said in a statement. “Our absolute priority is to ensure that all of our customers can continue their journeys as planned this Christmas, and we’re working hard to protect all of their trips.”

Summer holiday
Meanwhile, two ground staff unions at Air New Zealand say they will strike over pay and conditions on December 21, action that is expected to hit “close to 42,000 customers”, the airline says.

The walkout by around a thousand employees represented by the unions E tū and the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association includes maintenance engineers and logistics staff. Further strikes are likely, they warn.

“We know how important summer holidays are for our customers who look forward to being able to gather with friends and family at this important time of year,” Viv de Beus, Air New Zealand general manager for aircraft maintenance, said.

“It would be devastating to see the holiday plans of more than 40,000 hardworking Kiwis and international visitors ruined.”

He added: “We have only been in negotiations with this group for six weeks so industrial action is entirely premature.”

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