UPDATED 1200 Friday with Tigerair comment – Ed
Tigerair Australia pilots have commenced protected industrial action, which the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) union says could result in flight cancellations and disruptions at the Virgin Australia-owned low-cost carrier, as it has come to rely on pilots working on rostered days off.
Limited industrial action was initially planned for December, but was suspended after Tigerair made a successful application to the Fair Work Commission. The new work ban sees pilots not working on “rostered days off, annual leave days or days free of duty”, the AFAP said on Thursday afternoon.
“After more than two years of negotiations Tigerair pilots feel there is no alternative left to them but to take this protected industrial action,” AFAP industrial officer James Lauchland said in a statement.
The airline has come to rely on pilots working on rostered days off, Lauchland said.
“This action simply involves pilots working to rule and refusing to offer this discretionary effort.
“If the company can’t find another way to crew these flights, we are likely to see a large impact on Tigerair flights during the busy January holiday period.”
Despite the work bans Tigerair is not expecting the industrial action to affect passenger travel plans, and has put in place contingencies to minimise any disruptions.
“Tigerair Australia is currently negotiating a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) for pilots with relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) and VIPA,” a Tigerair spokesperson said in a statement.
“Tigerair continues to negotiate in good faith with the AFAP/VIPA and we look forward to reaching a mutually beneficial outcome as soon as possible.”
The AFAP said around 90 per cent of pilots employed by Tigerair approved taking the protected industrial action, which will run between January 4-9 and again from January 11-17. Most Tigerair Australia pilots are represented by the AFAP, with a small number members of VIPA, which represents other Virgin Australia group pilots.
A conciliation conference at the Fair Work Commission is scheduled for January 10.
“It was not our preference to engage in disruptive action but this is a direct consequence of the company challenging our other less disruptive actions at the Fair Work Commission,” Lauchland said.
If there are any changes to flights, Tigerair will contact affected passengers directly.