Govt could step in on airport strikes

Govt could step in on airport strikes

The Government has indicated it could intervene to stop mass strike action at New Zealand's three largest airports later in the month.

The rolling strikes are set to cause mass disruptions to international and domestic travellers as aviation security staff walk off the job. 

The Government says it wants to have the airports running "as close to business as usual as we can" - and says the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has a number of options available to it. 

The Prime Minister said one option was to "potentially" bring in other agencies like Police or Customs to do the job of airport security. 

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said they could also haul in spare staff from other parts of the country so disruptions are minimised. 

"I've sought assurances from the CAA they will be able to deal with this, minimising disruption to passengers travelling domestically and internationally.

"They're confident they can do that, they can continue to operate things in a safe and secure manner with minimal disruption."

The strikes are planned to go ahead right in the middle of the school holidays.

"I think what we're seeing here is a strike notice designed to cause maximum disruption by the unions," Mr Bridges said.

Labour leader Andrew Little said using other agencies to fill the role will be a slap in the face for unions. 

"I'd say this is good old fashioned National union bashing, so, you know, they should go for it."

Mr Little likened the Government considering using another public service to effectively break the strike to the 1951 waterfront strikes - the biggest industrial action in New Zealand history - saying National had a long history of fighting back against unions.  

"Well it was good enough for Sid Holland, good enough for Rob Muldoon, good enough for William Massey if you want to go back to the National Party's original precursors - and no doubt they celebrated all that this weekend at their 80th birthday." 

Negotiations with three unions have been ongoing for a year - members of the National Union of Public Employees settled, leaving E tū and PSA members still negotiating. 

Newshub understands the offer on the table would have only produced an extra $2 per week in the pay packets of aviation security staff. 

Mr Bridges says he is hoping for an "amicable" outcome. 

"Our hope is still we can mediate this and can have an amicable solution so that it doesn't get to a position of strike."

Strikes are planned on the following dates: