Qantas has not been able to reach any sort of new agreement with the ALAEA, AIPA and TWU. The airline and the unions have concluded that Fair Work Australia will need to resolve the dispute.
Fair Work Australia will now bring an end to the clash between Qantas Airways and unions through binding arbitration. Negotiation between Qantas and its pilots, engineers and other employee groups failed to reach any conclusion, and now all parties will have to acknowledge a future settlement imposed by Australia’s industrial umpire.
On Monday, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), the only holdout for a negotiated settlement, followed pilots, baggage handlers and caterers in opting for a resolution to be decided by Fair Work Australia.
“We haven’t been able to reach a new agreement with the ALAEA, so will now let the independent umpire decide,” Qantas’ Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce, said in a statement published in news reports.
Qantas Airways and the unions said that arbitration could take months and can be binding for up to four years.
However, a key factor that will bring huge relief and comfort to ‘the Flying Kangaroo’ is that neither side can take any industrial action while the arbitration is continuing. This will ensure that no more travel disruptions will be faced by passengers. Qantas, perhaps the leading name for flights to and from Australia, has been rocked by a string of strikes over the last few months.
Qantas Airways and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) failed to reach a fresh agreement on pay and conditions for some 4,000 employees. And now the matter will be solved by binding arbitration by Fair Work Australia.
“Qantas is extremely disappointed that despite over six months of negotiations and a further three weeks of conciliation talks before Fair Work Australia the TWU has refused to remove its unreasonable demands,” the airline said in a statement.
Alan Joyce said it was time to let Fair Work Australia bring the matter to an end.
“We haven’t been able to reach a new agreement with the Transport Workers Union through negotiations so we will now let the independent umpire decide,” he was quoted in different news sources.
“We made a generous offer which included reasonable increases in pay and conditions, protections on the jobs of existing Qantas employees and Qantas maintaining the flexibility we need to run the airline. The union rejected this offer,” he continued.
Mr Joyce pledged the airline’s support to the government in case TWU launches a legal challenge against the decision to cease all industrial action.
“If the TWU launches a legal challenge against the decision by Fair Work Australia to terminate all industrial action, the Federal Government has indicated that it will vigorously defend the decision and are confident the TWU will not be successful. We are right behind the government on this,” Mr Joyce was quoted.
Qantas Airways has also been unable to reach a new deal with the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA).
“We did make some progress in negotiations with movement on both sides however in the end we were unable to reach a new agreement for our 1,600 long-haul pilots,” Mr Joyce said in regards to AIPA.
Customers Returning: Qantas
Qantas Airways claims that customers have returned “in large numbers” since the carrier has resumed flying after grounding its entire fleet in late October.
Australia’s flag carrier went all out to attract travellers after they were left disgruntled by the airline’s decision of fleet grounding. Those looking for cheap flight tickets with Qantas were pleasantly surprised when the airline gave away free air tickets to apologize to travellers who were left high and dry during the flight grounding episode.
Qantas has announced a free return economy flight to affected travellers within New Zealand and Australia for over a two-year period from Dec. 14. Cheap flight tickets were offered and an advertising blitz was also launched to win back passengers.
Industry analysts believe that Qantas Airways is better off by submitting to the imposed settlement by the Fair Work Australia. It is believed that that the move would help the airline cut costs.