Engineers' union action hits 60,000 passengers
Sydney, 13 October 2011
Qantas passengers face their third day this week of severe disruptions to their holiday and business travel plans with the strike on Friday by licensed engineers’ union to affect over 7,600 passengers from 17 flight cancellations and 32 flight delays.
Some Rugby fans travelling from Sydney to New Zealand for the World Cup semi-final will face delays of more than three hours.
The strike, which will take place between 4pm-8pm in Sydney, comes after the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) pulled a cynical stunt on Monday cancelling a strike just hours before it was to commence and causing chaos to the travel plans of 11,000 people.
The strikes today from the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the strike tomorrow from the ALAEA will bring the total number of passengers impacted since unions started action to around 60,000.
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 run the airline.
"It is clear by the timing of these strikes that they are trying to cause maximum damage to Qantas and our passengers,” Ms Wirth said.
“We are extremely disappointed with the action being taken by this union. It is the same union that warned customers not to fly with Qantas before Christmas, trying to destroy the business that employs its members.
“We now have the pilots' union, the licensed aircraft maintenance engineers union and the Transport Workers’ Union all ramping up their coordinated industrial campaign against Qantas.
“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.
“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 urge the unions to drop this industrial campaign and come back with realistic claims for the sake of all Qantas employees, our shareholders and the Australian travelling public. “
The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association will also hold a one-hour stoppage, which will mean further disruptions in Melbourne tomorrow afternoon.
The union also advised late last night that they will take a four-hour stop work meeting in Adelaide on Tuesday 18 October between 8am-12pm.
Qantas is contacting customers who were booked on flights that have been cancelled and those that have been significantly delayed. Updated flight details are available on www.qantas.com.
Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (5206)