Qantas’ engineers union has announced plans to strike for one hour every weekday from 25 August until Christmas. The move by the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) follows the breakdown of talks with the airline yesterday. ALAEA is unhappy with the wages being offered by the Australian airline, and said it was “left under the impression” that up to 198 engineers would be made redundant as a result of Qantas’ new five-year restructuring strategy, which it announced on Tuesday.
Under the union action, engineers at Brisbane will strike on Mondays, Sydney on Tuesdays, Adelaide on Wednesdays, Sydney on Thursdays and Melbourne on Fridays. ALAEA added however, that other union engineers would be encouraged to work overtime - with overtime pay - to cover the stoppages, in an effort to “prevent disruption of Qantas flights”.
The airline hit back at the union however, calling its actions “blatantly cynical and ridiculous”.
“If the union is serious about not disrupting the travel plans of Australians then they should call off the strikes immediately,” Qantas Group Executive, Olivia Wirth said on Friday. “No Australian company would accept this. What incentive would the union have to reach an agreement with workers earning significantly more money while on strike?” Ms Wirth added.
Qantas has faced a barrage of accusations from both engineers’ and pilots’ unions since announcing its new international strategy. The carrier admitted that the restructuring would come at the cost of approximately 1,000 jobs, but has firmly denied that any jobs would be ‘offshored’ to Asian countries.
“Qantas is not offshoring a single job. The redundancies, which will largely be voluntary, are as a result of the removal of poor performing routes,” a Qantas statement said. “The new airlines which are being set up in Asia are about capitalising on growth in Asia with Jetstar Japan operating domestic services within Japan and the new premium airline being incremental flying to current Qantas international operations.”
The airline has urges ALAEA to return to the negotiating table.