Qantas pilots to take industrial action
Qantas long-haul pilots have voted to take protected industrial action against the airline for the first time in 45 years, as the carrier rejected union claims it was sending pilots’ jobs offshore.
AUSTRALIAN and International Pilot’s Association (AIPA) vice-president Richard Woodward said 94 per cent of the 1429 pilots who voted in a ballot were in favour.
The pilots were asked to vote on forms of industrial action spanning from five minute work stoppages to two-day stoppages.
Mr Woodward said the final strategy will be mapped out over the weekend.
“It’s up to us what action we will be taking over the next few days,” he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
The association wants Qantas to give assurances on job security.
It has cited concerns about the outsourcing and offshoring of pilot jobs at Qantas.
AIPA president Barry Jackson said the pilots had not taken industrial action since 1966 and he said the aim was to get a clause in an enterprise agreement guaranteeing Qantas pilots will fly Qantas long-haul flights.
“The issue that pushed us towards taking protected industrial action is a fundamental one – we now have a management team in charge who believe you can shift operations to Asia, outsource the jobs of Australian Qantas pilots and not do any damage to the Qantas brand in the process,” Captain Jackson said.
“They are wrong.”
A Qantas spokesman told AAP the airline rejected AIPA’s claims that it was planning to send jobs overseas.
“We completely reject the claims of offshore and outsourcing they (the union) made in their statement,” Qantas spokesman Luke Enright told AAP.
“And there’s no suggestion we would.”
Mr Enright said a possible result of AIPA’s demands was that the pilot costs on Jetstar A330 aircraft would be likely to increase by approximately 50 per cent.
The AIPA claim on wages and free travel would also cost about $150 million over four years.
In a separate, earlier statement the airline issued a statement saying it was disappointed by the decision to take action and accused pilots of making unreasonable demands.
“Qantas 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 airline said in an email.
“We encourage the union to remain at the negotiating table.”
Also on Monday, Qantas said the federal government’s planned carbon emissions tax would cost its domestic operations $110 million to $115 million in the first year of its implementation.
It warned the group would pass through that cost in full to consumers.
The tax is due to take effect on July 1, 2012.