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Sun, Oct 30, 2011

Qantas Labor Troubles Cause Grounding

Qantas Blames Industrial Action For Decision To Hit The Dirt

Labor actions by three different unions are being blamed for the fleetwide grounding of a major international airline. The management of Qantas has announced that "as of 2000 AEDT on Monday 31 October 2011, it will lock out all employees who are covered by the industrial agreements currently being negotiated with the Australian Licensed Engineers Union (ALAEA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian and International Pilots Union (AIPA).

This step is being taken under the provisions of the Fair Work Act in response to industrial action taken by these unions. The financial impact of action taken to date has reached $68 million and the action is costing Qantas approximately $15 million per week in lost revenue. Approximately 70,000 passengers have been affected and more than 600 flights cancelled. Pilots, licensed engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff are essential to Qantas operations and the lock-out will therefore make it necessary for all Qantas aircraft to be grounded."

The airline noted that 'for precautionary reasons' the action was instigated as of 1700 AEDT, Saturday 29 October 2011. Aircraft then inflight were allowed to complete the sectors one their schedule , but emphasized that there would "be no further Qantas domestic departures or international departures anywhere in the world. This will have an estimated financial impact on Qantas of $20 million per day."

Qantas stated that the lock-out would continue until the ALAEA, the TWU and AIPA drop the 'extreme demands that have made it impossible for agreements to be reached.'

The labor problems did not extend to Jetstar flights, QantasLink flights and Qantas flights across the Tasman operated by Jetconnect -- and those flights were still scheduled to continue. Express Freighters Australia and Atlas Freighters were also continued.

Qantas also announced that employees were required to remain at work until the lockout commenced and that they would be paid for that time.

However; after the start of the lockout:  

  • employees who are locked out will not be required at work and will not be paid.
  • employees working overseas will not be locked out and will continue to be paid.
  • all other employees are required at work and will be paid as normal.

The airline has asked that customers booked on Qantas flights NOT go to the airport until further notice and that full refunds will be available to any customer who chooses to cancel their flight because it has been directly affected by the grounding of the fleet. Full rebooking flexibility will be available to customers who wish to defer their travel. Assistance with accommodation and alternative flights, as well as other support, will be offered to customers who are mid-journey.

Qantas also stated that they "regret(ed) that this action has become necessary and apologizes sincerely to all affected passengers."

FMI: www.qantas.com.au

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