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Engineers' union action to impact 11,000 Qantas passengers

Sydney, 07 October 2011

More than 11,000 Qantas passengers face lengthy delays and cancelled flights on Monday as the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) ramps up its industrial campaign against Qantas.

Qantas will be forced to cancel 40 flights, delay 24 flights by up to 3.5 hours and bring forward 14 flights on Monday with the union to hold four hour strikes in the afternoon in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

There will be 40 domestic flights cancelled and 27 delayed or brought forward. There will be 11 international services delayed.

The union action today and on Monday will bring the total number of passengers that have been impacted since unions commenced strike action six weeks ago to 46,500 passengers from 348 cancelled or delayed flights.

Qantas Group Executive Government and Corporate Affairs Olivia Wirth said the strike is due to an ongoing dispute over pay and the union’s attempt to effectively run the airline.

“We apologise to all of our customers who face delays and cancellations on Monday. The union is holding Qantas passengers to ransom,” Ms Wirth said.

“We will deploy larger aircraft and roster qualified management engineers to operational roles to minimise the impact however there still be significant impacts on our passengers.

“Qantas has been in negotiations with the union on a new enterprise bargaining agreement for over 12 months. Qantas licensed aircraft maintenance engineers are already the highest paid in the world and the current demands from the union are unreasonable.

“The licensed engineers’ union is demanding significant pay increases and a guarantee from Qantas that no changes will be made to old work practices on new generation aircraft, and that no productivity improvements will be introduced.”

The total cost of the ALAEA’s claim is $165 million - plus $95 million to build a new hangar. Details of the EBA claim from the ALAEA include:
- Around 15 per cent increase in wages and allowances over three years. The remuneration package of the average licensed engineer would be around $170,000 in January 2013 if we agreed to the ALAEA’s claim.
- A guarantee that no changes be made to current work practices including changes which improve productivity or that are in line with developments in modern aircraft technology.
- Introduction of a time serving classification structure where workers receive additional pay increases based on years of service rather than merit or qualifications.

In addition to the four hour strikes, the ALAEA is taking a range of industrial action which includes:
- Ongoing one hour strikes in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane each week.
- Ban on licensed aircraft engineers doing overtime which creates a backlog of maintenance.
- Day long strikes at heavy maintenance facilities in Melbourne and Brisbane.
- Go-slow on day-to-day work.

“If the union’s demands were accepted it would make Qantas significantly less competitive and hold us back from introducing modern maintenance techniques used by airlines around the world,” Ms Wirth said.

“We want to reach a fair and reasonable negotiated outcome and we call on the union to return to the negotiating table.

“We have already seen the union’s go-slow action and overtime bans cause significant delays in getting aircraft maintained and back into service. As always, Qantas will continue to ensure safety before schedule. No aircraft will fly that has not had all required maintenance completed.

“It is clear that the engineers’ union, the pilots’ union and the Transport Workers Union are working together on a coordinated industrial campaign against Qantas and our customers.”

The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association will continue its rolling one-hour stoppages, which will mean further disruptions at Melbourne this afternoon and Brisbane on Monday.

Qantas is contacting customers who were booked on flights that have been cancelled and those that have been significantly delayed. Updated flight details will be available on www.qantas.com

The four hour strikes will begin at:
- Sydney 3pm (local time)
- Melbourne 5pm (local time)
- Brisbane 4pm (local time)

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5200)
Email: qantasmedia@qantas.com.au