Engineers' Union Cancels Planned Strike Action

Sydney, 12 May 2011

Qantas has reinstated all cancelled and delayed flights tomorrow after the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) advised the airline this afternoon that it would no longer take strike action.

Union-led work stoppages involving its 1600 members were planned for 8am-9am tomorrow, prompting Qantas to cancel 31 flights, impacting 2500 passengers and delaying 46 flights.

Qantas Group Executive Operations, Lyell Strambi, said the union's decision was welcome news for customers wishing to travel tomorrow however significant damage had already been done.

"The union is playing games with the Australian travelling public and have already thrown the travel plans of thousands of passengers into disarray," Mr Strambi said.

"This is a union tactic to maximise the disruptions to passengers and the company but costs the union members nothing.

"The union leaders have shown their true colours and the promise of industrial action has already caused mayhem for our customers and employees, and potentially damaged our reputation. This indicates that the ALAEA is more focused on disruptive action than negotiations.

"If the union is serious about not disrupting the airlines operations and passengers, I call on the union to cancel the strike action planned for Monday and Tuesday next week.

"The union's claims about safety concerns are absolute rubbish, Mr Purvinas always likes to make these claims to scaremonger around EBA negotiations."

Customers are being contacted to advise them that normal operations are resuming.

Mr Strambi said that Qantas could not agree with the union's unreasonable and excessive demands.

"Qantas has entered into discussions with the union in good faith and we have exhausted all avenues, possible however we have been unable to make any real progress with the union," he said.

"We want to reach a fair and reasonable negotiated outcome with our workers but we will not be blackmailed by the union.

"If Mr Purvinas is serious that his claim is only a 3.14 per cent increase then we would accept that in a heartbeat but the reality is the cost of the 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."

"This comes at a time when the airline and aviation industry is impacted by a number of significant challenges including high fuel prices, a number of natural disasters and our international business is already underperforming.

"We just 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 call on the union to stop disrupting Qantas passengers and return to the negotiating table to achieve a realistic outcome."

Mr Strambi thanked the many Qantas employees who had been preparing for the strike action, and many more who would have been involved managing the impact tomorrow.

Details of the claim from the ALAEA includes:
* 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 structure which rewards engineers exclusively for the number of years they have worked for Qantas. This would automatically increase wages by 2 per cent every year for the next 10 years above normal wage increases;
* 6 weeks annual leave;
* Guaranteed staff travel (above generous existing travel benefits offered to staff) which would displace paying passengers; and
* Guarantee no change to current work practices including changes which do not impact on safety but improves efficiency and productivity.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5106)