Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Qantas dispute update

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Qantas and two unions representing baggage handlers and long-haul pilots are still a long way from reaching a deal after industrial action in late 2011. The union representing licensed aircraft engineers however have signed a new 3 year agreement with the company.

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) failed to secure a new hangar in Australia for heavy maintenance work but according to their federal secretary, Steve Purvinas, had won ‘all of our existing functions in a job-security clause”. The 1,600 engineers will keep their jobs which includes three percent wage rises annually over three years.

However, as the Herald Sun reported in late December 2011, there were big concessions made to the airline. The deal leaves the way open for gradual introduction of lower paid and qualified A-license workers to perform and sign off on basic maintenance tasks, such as changing wheels, which at present must be done by a licensed engineer.

This result is disappointing considering that there was scope for the three unions to run a joint campaign against this anti-union company. If the weight of the entire union movement was behind the campaign there would have been no need for any concessions.

Tensions between the airline and its ground staff and long-haul pilots remain over conditions, job security and pay. The Transport Workers Union and the Australian International Pilots Association are continuing negations. A key demand, especially for the ground crews, is job security provisions.

Workers in these and other industries need to demand that union leaders refuse to accept any concessions. A fight should be waged to protect jobs and conditions side by side with a campaign to bring the airline back into public ownership. This way the industry can be run as a service, not as a profit making enterprise.

By Socialist Party reporters


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