Monday, December 19, 2011

Qantas Makes Peace Pact with Engineers’ Union

Qantas airline and the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) have reached a truce deal. Nearly 1,600 licensed aircraft maintenance engineers will be covered under the agreement that was presented to Fair Work Australia today.

Qantas has managed to negotiate a truce with one of the three unions at the centre of the industrial clash that resulted in the grounding of the airline’s entire fleet in October.

Qantas Airways, Australia’s flag carrier, sealed a deal with the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) by agreeing to a 3 per cent annual wage hike for the next three years. ALAEA represents 1600 licensed aircraft maintenance engineers.

The airline and the ALAEA presented the agreement proposal to the industrial regulator today.

Qantas’ Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said the airline is pleased that finally a deal has been negotiated between two parties.

“After such a damaging industrial campaign, this is a positive outcome that will allow Qantas to move forward with certainty,” Alan Joyce was quoted as saying in the airline’s media release posted on the website.

“The proposal submitted to Fair Work Australia is a good deal for Qantas and its licenced engineers. However, it does not contain any of the restrictive demands that would have handed control of parts of the airline to the union.

“Throughout the negotiation process, we have been willing to offer reasonable pay increases and conditions – provided the union withdraw its attempts to influence how Qantas is run,” Mr Joyce continued

‘The Flying Kangaroo’ will offer a three per cent pay rise in return for agreeing to new work practices put forth by the airline. The union also agreed to drop its demand for construction of a new hangar for Airbus A380s.

With a truce deal clenched, Qantas Airways will surely breathe a sigh of relief. The airline has been embroiled in labour disputes with three major workers’ unions for quite some time now. As a result, the airline was forced to ground each and every flight to and from Australia two months ago in order to force an end to ongoing industrial action. The move did not go too well with travellers as thousands were stranded at airports with all flights to Australia being suspended. Later, the Australian carrier was forced to offer cheap flight tickets and in some case even free tickets to win back passengers.

No Deal With Others

Any sort of compromise is yet to be reached with other two employee groups - ground staff and long haul pilots. It is expected that disputes with these unions will go to binding arbitration next year. Meanwhile, Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) has filed legal action against Fair Work’s order banning all parties from taking industrial action.

Qantas has plans to launch two other carriers in Asia next year. One of them is scheduled to be a low-cost unit in Japan that will be offer cheap flight tickets for air travel.

The other is planned to be a full-service airline based in Singapore or Malaysia.

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