Qantas 747-400. Courtesy, QF

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has backed Qantas (QF) union demands to strengthen the Qantas Sales Act, which seeks to ensure the airline remains Australian-owned and -controlled.

QF unions—the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Assn. (ALAEA), Australian and International Pilots Assn. (AIPA) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU)—have been seeking through unsuccessful industrial action to restrict the airline’s ability to hire and base off-shore pilots at places such as Singapore, and from off-shoring maintenance (ATW Daily News, Nov. 22). They are now turning to legislation to achieve their goals.

Last weekend, officials used ALP’s national conference in Sydney to mount attacks on the airline's management.

According to The Australian, TWU federal secretary Tony Sheldon made a number of speeches condemning QF executives Alan Joyce and Leigh Clifford, and succeeded in passing a motion condemning the company's conduct following the recent fleet grounding (ATW Daily News Oct. 31).

In a separate motion filed by Sheldon, ALP supported ownership provisions for the nation's airlines "that keep the majority ownership, operation and governance of these airlines in Australia." Sheldon said management's decision "to outsource and relocate existing work is lowering the high standards expected of the airline by all Australians."

QF spokeswoman Olivia Wirth warned against changes to the legislation. "Any proposed plans to change the act that restrict Qantas from doing business will not protect Australian jobs. Changes to put further restrictions on Qantas would be short sighted and would not provide job protection. It would threaten the viability of Qantas as well as Jetstar," Wirth told The Australian.