Qantas and three of its unions face a midnight deadline today to resolve their dispute or head to binding arbitration.
The deadline comes after a weekend that saw Transport Workers Union boss Tony Sheldon suggest the talks were on the verge of collapse. Sheldon said Qantas had little interest in a negotiated settlement and preferred to see the dispute resolved in arbitration by Fair Work Australia.
The industrial umpire imposed a three week deadline on October 31 when it ordered both sides to halt industrial action, two days after Qantas grounded its entire fleet. Fair Work Australia could also grant a 21-day extension if the sides can show significant progress.
Qantas insists it is committed to talks with the unions, which continued today, and dismissed Sheldon’s comments as “scaremongering.”
Pointing out that no one predicted Qantas decision to ground its fleet, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese said yesterday that he believed a deal was still possible ahead of the deadline and called on both sides to “act like adults and get this done.”
“There is no reason in my view why Qantas management and the unions can’t get this deal done,” he said, adding that arbitration might produce an outcome neither side agreed with. “So they have an incentive.”