Air New Zealand a sweat shop says former minister
March 16, 2008, Sun Herald
A former New Zealand immigration minister has labelled the state airline a "flying sweat shop" for paying Chinese flight attendants little more than a quarter of their New Zealand colleagues' wages.
Tuariki John Delamere, now an immigration consultant, said today that Air New Zealand's attitude was "disgusting" in paying more than 30 Chinese workers less than their New Zealand counterparts, particularly as it was 76-per-cent owned by the government, Radio New Zealand reported.
Earlier, the New Zealand Herald reported that the Chinese-based flight attendants who worked on the airline's Auckland-Shanghai services were paid less than the minimum wage laid down in New Zealand law.
The paper quoted an Air New Zealand official as saying the Chinese workers were not employed directly by the airline but were seconded by a Chinese company, Fasco, which set their salaries based on market relativity in China.
The Herald said the Chinese received annual base pay of $NZ6,240 ($5,408) compared to $NZ24,000 ($20,800) paid to New Zealand attendants.
It said the Chinese received an additional daily allowance of $NZ55 ($47.70) for long-haul flights against $NZ170 ($147.35) for New Zealand staff.
The total calculated on a 40-hour week worked out at less than one-third of New Zealand's minimum hourly wage, the paper said.
It quoted a former Chinese attendant who has left the airline, Crystal Zeng, as saying, "I remember feeling the pain when I see the others being able to go out to party while we don't even have enough money for movies and McDonald's."