Many NZ air traffic controllers performing roles without certainty of toilet breaks, union tells Select Committee

Many air traffic controllers (ATCs) in New Zealand are completing shifts without the certainty of a regular toilet break, the union representing them has told the Education and Workforce Select Committee today.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) represents nearly every air traffic controller in the country and said changes to the proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill (ERA Bill) were "safety-critical" to allow air traffic control staff a break, the Select Committee has heard.

The NZALPA said proposed legislation could require air traffic controllers to work without any breaks for up to 9.5 hours.

NZALPA President and international airline pilot Tim Robinson said that air traffic is widely recognised as one of the most stressful occupations in the world with the highest need for mental alertness and restricting the ability for air traffic controllers from having "normal" breaks like other workers is irresponsible and unsafe.

He said the lack of breaks could lead to a serious incident or accident.

"Many ATCs, particularly those based at regional airports, are often solo controllers working the shift by themselves. This means that they have the sole duty to ensure that the aerodrome and surrounding airspace remains safe," Mr Robinson said. 

"While many of these regional airports would seem to have relatively low levels of aircraft movement, ATC's must maintain continuous visual watch throughout the duration of their shift, and often have to respond to unexpected and sometimes urgent situations involving the safety of aircraft."

The proposed ERA Bill excludes those employed in "essential service", including air traffic controllers, from mandatory meal and rest breaks.

The proposed ERA Bill reflects the wording of the current legislation, NZALPA is calling for it to be amended to allow ATCs the same meal and rest breaks as other workers.

NZAPLPA pressed the Select Committee to consider the safety impacts of excluding air traffic controllers from mandatory breaks.

"In many comparable jurisdictions such as Canada, every control tower is routinely staffed by more than one person.  In many countries in the European Union it is a legal requirement to have more than one person on duty following fatal accidents in the past."

"Does New Zealand have to wait for a major accident to occur in order to highlight the need for proper rest and meal breaks to be legislated?" Mr Robinson asked.  

Plane



Kiwi chocolatier Whittaker's takes leap into ice cream bars

Kiwi chocolate company Whittaker's is expanding from the lollies aisle, with an eye on dominating the freezer sections of supermarkets and dairies as well.

Starting Monday, Tip Top will offer three new flavours of ice cream bars featuring the brand: chocolate and pretzel, coffee and cacao and vanilla and cashew praline.

"It's the moment you've been waiting for...two iconic Kiwi brands coming together to combine the best of both worlds," Tip Top announced on its Facebook page this morning.

Unlike previous collaborations, the flavours are a permanent addition to the Tip Top range, a Whittaker's official told the New Zealand Herald.

"We've always had a dream to be able to create a delicious ice cream with somebody," said Whittaker's marketing manager Jasmine Currie.

Auckland fans of the brands will have an opportunity to get an early taste of the ice creams on Saturday, with a pop-up store opening at midday in Newmarket.

kiwi companies Whittaker's and Tip Top have collaborated for three new ice cream bars. Source: Tip Top


Three people arrested after police conduct search warrants targeting organised crime, drugs in Bay of Plenty

Police have arrested three people so far today after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investgation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

Two men and a woman were arrested. 

They are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police

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Watch: 'Make it lit fam' - Andrew Little releases video appealing for 2019 New Plymouth youth MP

MP Andrew Little has released a video appealing for a 2019 New Plymouth youth MP.

In the video, Mr Little can be seen making digs at his political rivals - David Seymour, Gareth Morgan, Bill English and John Key - while attempting to appeal to the modern teenager.

"I'm Andrew Little. You may know me for such things as my cat (soz Gareth), beard polls, party hats and Dancing With The Stars. Just kidding. That's Not Safe for Twerk," the Justice Minister says.

"But if you're going to have a backing track, make sure it's pretty legal. So make it lit fam."

The MP can be seen making digs at his political rivals as he tries to appeal to the modern teenager. Source: Breakfast