Qantas pilots have overwhelmingly voted in favour of protected industrial action following the failure to reach a resolution over a new Qantas Long Haul Pilots Agreement, with the pilot union demanding a contentious “Qantas flight/Qantas pilot clause” be part of the agreement.
The ballot, which saw 89 per cent of eligible pilots participate, saw 94 per cent voting to take industrial action and pursue a new enterprise agreement clause intended to bring Qantas back to the negotiating table over the AIPA’s demands. It also represents the first time since 1966 that Qantas pilots have voted to take such action.
“The historic nature of this vote proves just how critical a point we have reached. We believe and the public believes that when you board a Qantas flight you are entitled to a Qantas pilot in the cockpit,” AIPA president Barry Jackson said.
“Yet we now have a CEO who believes you can substitute Australian Qantas pilots with outsourced and offshore alternatives without doing damage to the brand. He’s dead wrong,” Jackson argued.
However, Qantas has countered the decision to take strike action, calling AIPA’s demands unreasonable and unsustainable in the current economic climate. “The pilots’ union is demanding pay increases, free flights on top of already heavily discounted airfares and a requirement that pilots on all Qantas airlines, including Jetstar, are paid the same high rates as Qantas pilots,” the airline said in a statement.
“Paying Qantas pilot rates to pilots for our low cost carrier Jetstar would drive up ticket prices, make Jetstar unprofitable and set precedents for other staff salaries. We encourage the union to remain at the negotiating table.
“Qantas is prepared to negotiate sensible and reasonable increases in pay and conditions for our long haul pilots, however, the current demands from the union are excessive and unsustainable,” the statement concluded, urging AIPA to return to the negotiating table with a revised set of demands.
Jackson said the union understood that Qantas “needs to adapt and evolve to stay profitable”, but believed “outsourcing the jobs of impeccably-trained and experienced Australian pilots” was unwise. AIPA is yet to decide on what form of protected industrial action it will take.