Licenced Engineers' Union to Take Industrial Action

Sydney, 09 May 2011

Qantas is extremely disappointed that the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) has today abruptly halted conciliation talks and announced industrial action.

The union has instructed its members to stop work from 8am-9am in all Australian ports on Friday 13 May.

Qantas Group Executive - Operations, Lyell Strambi said Qantas passengers could continue to travel with confidence with only minor delays expected on Friday morning.

"Our priority is to ensure that the Australian travelling public is not disrupted and we are putting contingencies in place to minimise the impact of this action," Mr Strambi said.

"The union clearly seems more intent on taking industrial action rather than genuinely negotiating for a new enterprise bargaining agreement for its members. Qantas has negotiated in good faith since September last year and exhausted all avenues possible however we have been unable to make any real progress with the union on an agreement.

"The union has been undertaking a campaign to attack the Qantas brand in an attempt to damage our reputation.

Qantas and the ALAEA were supposed to have conciliation talks at Fair Work Australia all day today, however the union abruptly halted the conciliation talks to announce the industrial action.

Mr Strambi said the union was misrepresenting the claims they were making for increased wages and conditions.

"The cost of the union's claim is 28.6 per cent over three years, with further increased costs being incurred in subsequent years bringing the real cost to above 36 per cent," he said.

"We cannot accept union demands for a veto on change which would damage Qantas, restrict our business and jeopardise the jobs of their members and all other Qantas employees.

"We are willing to negotiate on reasonable pay and conditions but we will not give in to their demands which remove flexibility the airline needs to respond to changing operating conditions."

"We remain available for direct talks with the union at anytime."

Details of the claim by the union include:
* Wage claim and structural changes equates to between 5-6 per cent increase each year for 3 years;
* Abolition of current pay structure which rewards engineers' training and skill level to be replaced by a new pay structure which rewards engineers exclusively for the number of years they have worked for Qantas. This would automatically increase earnings by 2 per cent each year
* 6 weeks annual leave;
* Guaranteed staff travel (above generous existing travel benefits offered to staff) which would displace paying passengers; and
* Requirement for Qantas to commit to major engineering projects years out from when these decisions need to be made.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5103)