Shanille Reynolds – A union member involved in decisions

Shanille has worked for Air New Zealand for thirteen years and is currently a Flight Service Controller at Auckland International.

As part of Air New Zealand’s and E tū’s High Performance Engagement (HPE) initiative, Shanille  is the E tū co-lead on the Ground Handling cost competitiveness group. She has been in this role for the past twelve months.

This took Shanille out of her usual duties at the airport and into the full-time responsibility of representing the union members in her area of the business. Those members include baggage handlers, aircraft cleaners and check in staff.

Shanille plays a key role in an initiative which aspires for employees to have meaningful, direct and substantive involvement in decision making and where the role of unions is respected and supported.

“I remember our facilitator telling us that we were doing ground-breaking work. It doesn’t always feel like it – but now when I think about it, compared to other industries and even other business groups in Air New Zealand, we really are.

 I’ve watched our group become trusted by the membership because we’re transparent and we communicate what’s happening. Even if the answers were not great, we still had them.

 As the COVID-19 crisis has upended aviation globally, I’m worried that all that will be lost as the employer reacts in panic mode.”

Clive Don, who works in ground handling in Christchurch and is an E tū National Executive member, also has concerns about how their employer will react.

 “I hope I am wrong, but I am scared that COVID-19 crisis will be used by the company to slash and burn terms and conditions,” he says.

With E tū needing to remind Air New Zealand that they work under the HPE Interest based model, Clive feels like there is a shift in the employers attitude to collaboration, driven from the top.

Shanille also noticed a change, when she had to push hard with the employer to make sure that her union’s team remained in crucial discussions about their future.

 “Without this push, I would have ended up back doing my usual duties and the workers’ voices would have been lost. I understand that there are many different stakeholders in a crisis like this, but now is more important than ever for us all to step up and work together.”

Shanille is a staunch advocate for having union members involved in decision making, because she has seen great wins, big and small, achieved for members under the interest-based model.

 “We have spent the last 12 months working collaboratively, using interest based problem solving and genuinely working through solutions together.

I just want it to be known that collaboration with employee unions must continue if we want to rebuild better. Yes, we may have to change and evolve during this crisis but we absolutely cannot go back to outdated models of standing in our own corners against each other.

 I believe you can still love the company you work for and stand up for what is fair and just for the membership at the same time.”