Qantas (QF) long-haul pilots have challenged Fair Work Australia’s (FWA) decision to terminate its protected action, further igniting its industrial dispute with the national carrier.
The airline has been engaged in a bitter 10-month dispute with three unions—the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Assn. (ALAEA), Australian and International Pilots Assn. (AIPA) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU)—over new labor contracts, which culminated in QF grounding its fleet and appealing to the industrial umpire for a lockout of union members. FWA responded by calling an end to the industrial impasse and giving the three unions 21 days to negotiate a settlement. If they fail to reach an agreement, FWA will arbitrate a binding decision on all the parties (ATW Daily News, Nov. 1).
On Thursday, AIPA said the proceedings will not halt negotiations with QF management currently underway and the union remains fully committed to negotiating an outcome.
The AIPA’s argument centers on the fact that the action of its members—who wore red ties and made limited announcements on the planes prior to take off or after landing—did not compare to QF’s decision to lock out union members and ground the fleet.
AIPA argues that the FWA decision has squarely impacted the ability of its members to lawfully engage in measures to ensure that the bargaining process is not one-sided in favor of QF to the detriment of its members. AIPA said that “not one aircraft was delayed or canceled by any action taken by AIPA members.”
However, the AIPA did join with the other two unions in flying to Canberra, the nation’s capital, to jointly press their claims to politicians.
Separately, the TWU, which represents baggage handlers and caterers, is also considering a legal challenge to the FWA decision.
FWA has already ruled in favor of QF concerning its New Zealand-based subsidiary, Jetconnect, saying that its pilots should fall under the terms and conditions that prevail in New Zealand (ATW Daily News, Sept. 6).
QF said it remains hopeful of reaching a new agreement with the unions within the 21-day negotiation period.