Members of the Australian and International Pilots Association have voted to take industrial action over a dispute regarding pay and conditions, the first time Qantas pilots have opted to take action in 45 years.
Union members voted by 94 per cent in favour of “protected industrial action as a means of applying pressure to management to come to the table and negotiate”. However it is not yet clear what action might be taken, or indeed when it might take place.
A union statement cited Qantas management plans to “shift Qantas operations to Asia and start mass outsourcing” as key to the dispute. AIPA’s president Barry Jackson said:
“We believe and the public believes that when you board a Qantas flight you are entitled to a Qantas pilot in the cockpit.
“That’s part of the deal when you fly Qantas. You expect the world-leading safety culture of Australian Qantas pilots.
“Yet we now have a CEO who believes you can substitute Australian Qantas pilots with outsourced and offshore alternatives without doing damage to the brand. He’s dead wrong.”
In response Qantas said it was “disappointed that the pilots' union is threatening to take industrial action which could cause disruptions to Australian travellers”.
The carrier added that it “is prepared to negotiate sensible and reasonable increases in pay and conditions for our long-haul pilots however the current demands from the union are excessive and unsustainable.
“The pilots' union is demanding pay increases, free flights on top of already heavily discounted airfares and a requirement that pilots on all Qantas airlines, including Jetstar, are paid the same high rates as Qantas pilots.
“Paying Qantas pilot rates to pilots for our low cost carrier Jetstar would drive up ticket prices, make Jetstar unprofitable and set precedents for other staff salaries.”
Report by Mark Caswell