The union for Air New Zealand’s maintenance engineers has planned a strike on December 21 – its busiest day of the year – over pay disputes.
Hawke is not alone in facing her family not celebrating with her: the graduation ceremonies for the university’s science, education, health and human development faculties also take place on that day.
“I’m not against strikes, people need to stand up what they believe that they’re worth. It’s just unfortunate that this strike was timed on the day of graduation day,” Hawke said.
“I’ll make it to my graduation. I’m thinking about other students who are graduating and worrying now about whether they can actually attend their ceremony,” Hawke said.
“It’s one thing to not have all the people there to celebrate with but its another thing to not be able to celebrate yourself.”
Hawke’s best friend planned on flying in on graduation day, but was finding other alternatives.
The University of Canterbury would not comment on the matter.
Close to 42,000 customers booked to travel domestically and internationally on that date would face potential flight cancellations if it went ahead.
The airline said while the group has received pay increases annually for the past 12 years, it has rejected recent proposals including an immediate 2 per cent pay increase followed by a further 3 per cent increase after 12 months, with a further pay review in mid-2021.
Its maintenance engineering and logistics staff earned an average income of $115,000 and about 170 of them earn more than $150,000.
This year Air NZ reported its second highest profit of $540 million before tax, and its chief executive Christopher Luxon earned about $4m.
Graduates aren’t the only ones likely to miss out on loved ones being there for an important day – a Kiwi couple based in Malaysia are getting married north of Auckland the day after the strike and are hopeful the two parties will come to an agreement to meet staff’s expectations.
Rebecca Myrhe said most of her family was flying up from Wellington on December 21 to attend the wedding.
“Surely Air New Zealand’s financial success is linked to the timely and safe flights which is driven by their skilled engineers and larger work force.
“We sincerely hope that Air New Zealand can resolve this so that our loved ones can attend our wedding and so that people’s families all over new Zealand can make it home for Christmas,” Myrhe said.
Her fiance Edward Miller said the staff’s demands were reasonable considering the company’s performance.
“It would be pretty devastating for our friends and family to miss our on attending our wedding – as well as the tens of thousands of Kiwis wanting to fly home for Christmas – just because Air New Zealand couldn’t play fair,” Miller said.