The Federal Court has ruled against Qantas long haul pilots in a case seeking to reinstate the pilots’ ability to launch industrial action against the airline.
While dismissing the case, however, the court said Fair Work Australia should not have ordered the Australian and International Pilots Association to halt industrial action in the first place. One judge called Qantas’ decision to include the pilots in its lockout of employees “very likely opportunistic.”
Fair Work ordered Qantas and three of its unions to halt industrial action in November after Qantas and grounded its fleet for several days. That followed months of rolling industrial action by the unions.
But the pilots argued that their industrial action – which included wearing non-standard red ties and making in-flight announcements – was innocuous and should not have been barred. The judges agreed to a point, saying Qantas likely included the pilots in the lockout due to a desire to bring all the airline’s labour disputes to a head. However, the court ruled that once Fair Work found Qantas’s lockout a significant threat to the country’s economy – the standard for ordering an end to industrial action – all parties were bound by the ruling.
Qantas and the pilots’ union are scheduled to enter binding arbitration before Fair Work in June.