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Qantas, ALAEA continue blame game over cancelled strike

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 10, 2011

Qantas aircraft at Sydney recently. (Seth Jaworski)

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.”

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Comments (11)

  • jason taylor


    It has been a pleasure being a GOLD frequent flyer over the past 15 odd years. Its a pity none of the above could work together to support an AUSSIE ICON. My 2 year old daughter understands the meaning of sharing and cooperation, why can’t you.

    Thank You Alan Joyce
    Thank you Unions
    Thank You successive governments


  • Peter L


    Unions wake up! Qantas has to compete in a very competitive world and the days of you earning huge salaries is over.

    I suggest a few of you airline LAMEs go and see what your brothers earner in the GA area….a lot lot less.

    What makes you so special you should earn more than a Virgin, Tiger or Jetstar LAME?

    Keep this up and you will not have a job at all as Qantas will cease to exist!

  • Rob B


    Mr Purvinas, I believe the following statement shows that you are in a power game and really don’t give two hoots about the jobs of your QANTAS members!!

    “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.”

  • Nigel Ellis


    I read all the tales of the Qantas unions with slack-jawed amazement. It’s like a throw-back to UK industry in the 1970’s, with unions putting every possible barrier to productivity improvement in the short-term defence of their employees’ generous salaries and conditions. As Peter L says, if they keep this up Qantas will cease to exist – either the unions can’t see that Qantas can only survive by being competitive or their own career interest is a higher calling.

  • Peter G


    Qantas board wake up,Qantas has to compete in very competitive world and the days of earning huge salaries is over.
    I suggest that a few of you Qantas board,managers, Alan Joyce, Bruce Buchanan and Olivia Wirth have a look and see what all the other airline boards and executives around the world are paying themselves and see how you stack up.
    What makes you lot so special, not one of you can speak the truth.
    Keep this up and you will not have a job, and Qantas will cease to exist.

  • David W


    This sounds more like two school yard bullies fighting to be the top of the heap, without any regard for who gets hurt along the way.

    Isn’t this the same union that helped send Anset to the wall with such things at three flight deck crew when the world ran two? Isn’t this the same union that happily agrees to the Virgin employment conditions yet won’t let Qantas have the same conditions?

    What will the union do when all the Qantas employees are out of work because they have sent Qantas into history (But then the union staff will still have a job so it is easy to talk tough when your house and family income isn’t at risk).

    If the Qantas work force is that badly paid they would be leaving in droves and taking employment elsewhere. Since they are not doing this, perhaps they have already found that no one else will pay even what they are on now.

    But then again, what senior management would give themselves massive pay rises in the middle of a pay dispute and while introducing massive redundencies. Probably not managers with any concerns about anything but their own pockets and egos.

    Both the unions and Qantas need to get a grip on reality while there is a still a Qantas to work for, and maybe the union members should be thinking for themselves and wondering how they will pay their mortgages if there is no Qantas.

  • Chris



  • Martin


    David W: My guess is that ALAEA has always only represented Aircraft Maintenance Engineers rather than Flight Engineers of years gone by, so the answer to “Isn’t this the same union that helped send Anset to the wall with such things at three flight deck crew when the world ran two?” is almost certainly no. Happy to be corrected. I think you can probably look more at how Ansett was managed rather than at the actions of unions who are representing the interests of their membership, to answer why Ansett went to the wall.

    By the way, airfares these days seem to be cheap (in real terms) compared to what they were years ago. I can’t imagine that is possible if the airline (whether Qantas or the others) workforce is overpaid! Makes me wonder how much profit the airlines were making years ago!!

  • David W


    Martin: You are correct that I mixed up the unions re pilots and engineers. I was thinking one thing and writing another. I also don’t suggest that the workers are overpaid, rather my point was why does the union accept different pay scales for Virgin etc as against Qantas. By doing this, isn’t the union forcing Qantas to have higher costs and affecting is pricing strucure? Shouldn’t the airlines be able to expect the same conditions for all?

    My main reaosn for writing came after listening to a union person tell the public they would be better off flying on another airline. It just seems that the union is playing with the future employment of its Qantas members. I went through a major industrial action at the start of my working life, and the union was saying to “stay united, stand firm, don’t give in”. Many lost there jobs, some houses, some families, while the union people were still employed and just moved onto the next fight. Unions have a place in our society, but they have to respect that place and remember they represent the members, not their own personnal crusade.

    As before, Qantas should also be asking what kind of management team they have on board. Maybe senior management and all the senior union people have too much baggage, and should be put aside so that people with in interest in an outcome instead of their own ego’s can take over and get a result. Both are at blame for a situation that seems to out of control. If they don’t sort it out, will there be a 100 year old Qantas?

  • T.c


    Im a qantas engineer (non licensed).
    Joyce earns more money every year than I would in a life time. I earn less money per hour than i do working my second job as a bar man. After six years of experience with the spirit of Australia. That is why I’m looking for other job opportunities.

    Our jobs are constantly under threat and pay is pathetic and career progression to become licensed is very slow if existent at all.

    If Joyce left today, the company could continue to run. If baggage handlers, pilots, engineers, ground crew etc walked off the job today the company would cease to operate. I don’t think a minor percentage increase of pay which is still less than inflation. Is too much to ask for.

  • Why?Qantas


    I think you have all missed the big picture. I am an employee of the airline and a member of the ALAEA. For me its not about the money at all, although you all have to understand i studied for a number of years to acheive my goal as a LAME. I completed a four year apprenticeship studied 26 seperate subjects in my own time and required a min of 2000 hrs of aircraft experience before i qualified for a type course. Then i had to wait till i was selected, and had to study once again and sit and oral exam to prove that i was quailfied to hold a licence. That took me a total of 8 years on very average pay. I was part of the $621 club. Thats what i earned per week after my apprenticeship till i obtained my licence. I have a passion of my job and i have spent a lot of my younger life establishing my career. Im lucky to make $85000 a year and i work shift work. Employees with licences come to work everyday and sign the safety of a task they have carried out on an aircraft on a legal document, train AME’s and apprenties also. We take a lot of pride in our work and we know we provide the benchmark in engineering of aircraft around the world. I just dont want my job to go off shore or to places where quality and safety and comprimised. So, i personally appologise to all passengers who have had a delay in their holiday plans, but be warned maintenance outside Australia and even in some establishments within Australia falls very short of the services we provide within Qantas Engineering, I have seen it first hand, and so have you. If you take a good look and find out where the aircraft that have had major problems have been maintained you will find what i say is pretty much on the money.

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