Engineers' union plays cynical games with Qantas passengers

Sydney, 10 October 2011

The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) has ruined the travel plans of more than 11,000 passengers with the cancellation of today’s strikes coming too late for scheduled services to be reinstated.

Qantas was forced to cancel 40 flights, delay 24 flights by up to 3.5 hours and bring forward 14 flights today due to the planned four hour strikes this afternoon in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

This is the second time this year that the union has planned a strike and then called it off at the last minute. It also comes after the Transport Workers Union cancelled planned strike action at the last minute on Friday.

In a clear sign that this was an intentional game by the union, the media have been notified that the strikes have been cancelled however Qantas has still not been formally notified.

Qantas Group Executive Government and Corporate Affairs Olivia Wirth said the union was clearly intent on causing severe disruptions and making customers book with other airlines.

“We apologise to all of our customers who have been delayed because of cynical games from the union. We would like to re-instate services but it’s too late. You can’t just turn an airline on and off.

“The engineers’ union has waited until a few hours before the planned strike to call it off so that passengers are still disrupted and the Qantas business has been damaged but their members don’t lose any money from going on strike.”

Qantas has rejected the baseless claims from the union that a threatening letter was sent to employees. Qantas notified employees of the legal obligation under the Fair Work Act which prevents them from being paid if they engage in protected or unprotected industrial action. This was posted on notice boards on Friday last week.

The same notice was provided to employees before a planned strike in July and the union did not raise any issues with the notice at the time.

The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association will continue rolling one-hour stoppages, which will mean further disruptions at airports around Australia this week. The union is also continuing its ban on licensed aircraft engineers doing overtime which creates a backlog of maintenance and a go-slow on day-to-day work.

The ALAEA refused to attend conciliation talks before Fair Work Australia last Thursday.

Since unions commenced strike action six weeks ago 46,500 passengers have been impacted on 348 cancelled or delayed flights.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5202)