There’s more on the flight attendants’ pay dispute, the head of the EPMU, Andrew Little, calling on the government to act. Turns out the union had heard of this way back in October and passed the message on to the Flight Attendants’ Association. Of course, one has to wonder if anything was done about this and why it apparently took a newspaper report months later to spur anyone into action. Anyway, quotations:

Andrew Little, head of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, said the Government should hold Air New Zealand to account after revelations that Shanghai-based flight attendants were paid quarter the salary of their New Zealand colleagues.

“The Government, as the principal shareholder of Air New Zealand, needs to take a close interest and make sure the national airline is meeting the standards the Government would expect as an employer.”

and:

Mr Little said Air New Zealand was “hiding behind the apron strings of a third-party agent”.

“The end user of the labour of these people is Air New Zealand, and Air New Zealand has to take some responsibility for what is going on.

“As principal shareholder, the Government needs to make sure that the airline looks very closely at the situation and puts it right.”

And now it seems the Herald has opened a “your views” section on this, which I open with a vague feeling of trepidation…. Do I really want to read this? I suspect I know what several ignorant people are going to say, and indeed, the first comment I see is:

Yes, of course if the staff live in China, where the cost of living is less than it is in NZ.

Well, not as bad as I was expecting, but one “MRB” of Wellington City perhaps needs to take a trip to Shanghai, where the flight attendants are based, to see what kind of cost of living the flight attendants have to deal with when they’re at home, and remember that they spend significant periods of time in New Zealand. And scanning through, I see there are plenty more people who don’t seem to understand the difference between Shanghai and rural Sichuan, and one even mentioning Thailand, of all places, because, y’know, Asia is just one big monolith. Oh, and regardless of how far their pay would allegedly stretch in Shanghai (Shanghai, people! Not Chiang Mai or Ulan Bataar!), they still have to spend significant periods of time in Auckland! Alright, closing that tab before it starts me ranting at the sheer ignorance of so many of my compatriots.

Still haven’t seen any reaction to this in the Chinese internet, but then again, I haven’t been looking so far this morning, and that wedding yesterday took up a fair chunk of the day.

Update: There’s more. The Labour Minister, Trevor Mallard, wants a report. Whoopdedoo. The same article also contains some spectacular idiocy from the Alliance Party deputy leader:

The Alliance Party co-leader Victor Billot in a statement said the issue was a “red alert” to workers about what free trade deals would mean for New Zealand.

“This situation is exactly what we will see more of under the free trade scam being pushed through behind closed doors the use of cross-border labour with inferior conditions, contracting out, aggressive corporates, and a hands-off approach by Government to push down wages and conditions for workers.”

Mr Billot predicted the new step would be for Air NZ to contract out all their international and domestic flight crews to Chinese labour hire agencies.

I didn’t even know the Alliance still existed.

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