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Network Aviation strike to continue into the weekend

written by Jake Nelson | February 20, 2024

AFAP senior industrial officer Chris Aikens. (Image: AFAP)

Network Aviation pilots in WA have extended their protected industrial action yet again through the weekend amid concerns about the airline’s fatigue risk management system (FRMS) approach.

The 24-hour rolling strikes, which were to end on Thursday, will now continue until at least Sunday, 25 February as a survey of Australian Federation of Airline Pilots members showed 85 per cent did not agree Network’s management “actively and adequately address FRMS issues”.

According to the survey, more than 75 per cent of respondents did not have confidence in the Chief Pilot, with AFAP senior industrial officer Chris Aikens (pictured) saying the results reflected why a “town hall” meeting headed up by local management attracted only 10 pilots.

“The pilots at Network remain united and connected in their common pursuit of fair and equitable pay and conditions in line with those enjoyed by other Qantas Group pilots,” he said.

“Last Friday [16 February] more than half of the total pilot workforce attended an AFAP-run meeting and agreed to the continuation of rolling work stoppages.

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“Qantas can readily resolve this by recognising that Network pilots are only seeking to achieve terms and conditions of employment that are commonplace amongst the Qantas pilots and the airline industry overall.”

Network Aviation, a subsidiary of Qantas, handles the group’s FIFO and scheduled QantasLink services in Western Australia.

Qantas last week flew in 737s and charter planes from other airlines to break the strike, while AFAP pilots demanded to meet with new QantasLink CEO Rachel Yangoyan directly.

Qantas has denied “walking away” from negotiations and has taken an intractable bargaining application to the Fair Work Commission in the hopes of expediting an end to the impasse.

According to Network Aviation chief operating officer Trevor Worgan, further contingency plans are in place should the strike action persist.

“We’ve been working to reach a new agreement for 18 months and want our pilots to start receiving pay increases of more than 25 per cent that we have offered. We’ve been clear that we cannot offer more,” he said.

Network Aviation previously said it was “disappointing” that the union is planning industrial action not long after the application was lodged.

“We’re working on plans to minimise disruption to our customers if the union does go ahead with industrial action,” a spokesperson said.

“Our proposed agreement, which was supported by all three pilot unions, including the AFAP, for the two most recent votes, offers our pilots significant pay rises and more guaranteed days off each roster period.”

Network Aviation was bought by Qantas in 2010 and operates a fleet of more than 30 aircraft.

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