Qantas engineers launch work stoppages

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 22, 2011
Qantas is facing industrial action from its engineers. (Rob Finlayson)

Qantas engineers will take industrial action from this Thursday, with a series of daily one hour stoppages across the airline’s bases continuing through until December 16.

Some 1600 engineers are expected to take turns in refusing to work for the first hour of their shifts, with the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) offering Qantas union-aligned ‘strike breakers’ to avoid any expected disruptions to airline’s flight schedule.

“We’ve been negotiating with the airline for job security terms for nearly 12 months. Any progress that had been made has now been eliminated with Qantas announcing its intention to shrink Qantas in favour of new companies based in Asia,” ALAEA federal secretary Steven Purvinas said in a statement.

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Qantas has refused to accept the union’s “blatantly cynical offer” of strike breakers on overtime wages.

“No Australian company would accept this. What incentive would the union have to reach an agreement with workers earning significantly more money while on strike?” Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said in a statement.

“We want to reach a fair and reasonable negotiated outcome with our workers but we cannot accept demands of a guarantee that no changes be made to outdated maintenance work practices, and that no productivity enhancements be introduced.”

Virgin Australia has since offered to take on 200 Qantas engineers expected to be affected by the restructure, with CEO John Borghetti reportedly in talks with unions to discuss the idea.

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“We are keen to ensure that as many as possible of the highly skilled staff being displaced by Qantas are provided the opportunity to be considered for suitable roles at our airline,” News Led reports Virgin Australia group executive Richard Tanner saying in “confidential correspondence”.

“We are willing to liaise directly with Qantas and the aviation unions to help as many of the redundant Qantas staff as possible.”

The ALAEA says its industrial action schedule, covering all major airports, comprises: Brisbane – Monday afternoon/early evenings; Sydney – (domestic only) Tuesday afternoon/early evenings; Adelaide –  Wednesday afternoon/early evenings; Sydney – (international only) Thursday afternoon/early evenings; Melbourne – Friday afternoon/early evenings.

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