The ALAEA (Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association) called off planned strike action against Qantas today, but not before the airline was forced to cancel 40 flights and delay and bring forward others.
“The engineers’ union has waited until a few hours before the planned strike to call it off so that passengers are still disrupted and the Qantas business has been damaged but their members don’t lose any money from going on strike,” Qantas group executive government and corporate affairs Olivia Wirth said.
“We apologise to all of our customers who have been delayed because of cynical games from the union. We would like to re-instate services but it’s too late. You can’t just turn an airline on and off.”
For its part the ALAEA said it cancelled the four hour work stoppages as Qantas “illegally threatened” not to pay up to seven hours’ wages for the time not worked.
“The airline is playing dirty pool with our members by threatening them for taking lawful industrial action,” ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas said.
“To ensure our members are not unfairly disadvantaged by Qantas management’s last minute curve ball, we have decided to reassess our position on today’s planned action.”
The ALAEA says Qantas has “not responded” to its calls to resume negotiations on Wednesday, while Qantas says the ALAEA “refused to attend” conciliation talks before Fair Work Australia last Thursday.
Qantas says the travel plans of 11,000 passengers were disrupted by the cancellations and delays today. The ALAEA had planned that the four hour stoppage for its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane workforces would begin at 3pm AEDT. Instead, a four work stoppage is now planned for this Friday.
“I would think that by October the 28th when the Qantas AGM takes place you’re likely to see full-day stoppages,” Purvinas warned media in Melbourne today, AAP has reported.
“If I was a person considering travel over the period up until Christmas I’d probably be looking at airlines other than Qantas.”