In Western Australia, Qantas pilots who operate passenger, charter, and fly-in-fly-out (Fifo) flights will go on strike for 24 hours the week after next. This comes as staff who are negotiating a new pay contract have complained that their wages are “significantly lower” compared to those of competing airlines.
The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (Afap), which represents pilots employed by Network Aviation, a subsidiary of Qantas Group that operates Qantas Link, Fifo, and charter services for the airline in Western Australia, said that it notified Qantas management about the stop work action on Thursday afternoon. Network Aviation operates Qantas Link, Fifo, and charter services for the airline in Western Australia.
On Wednesday, October 4, members will participate in a work stoppage that will last for one full day.
More than fifty flights might be impacted as a result of the stop work action, with Qantas Link services from Perth to rural WA cities including Exmouth, Karratha, Geraldton, and Kalgoorlie, as well as to mine sites among those that could be impacted.
More than eighty-five percent of Network Aviation’s 250 pilots are Afap members, and of those pilots, 99.5 percent voted in favor of taking legally permitted industrial action. This action included a variety of work bans and work stoppages that were approved by the Fair Work Commission.
According to The Guardian’s understanding, a significant number of pilots working for the Qantas subsidiary are on base award rates, meaning they receive the same as entry level pilots despite being held to higher standards of performance.
According to Chris Aikens, senior industrial officer for the Afap, the organization “is disappointed that we have had to take this action.”
“The Afap has been actively negotiating and trying to reach an agreement with Qantas management, but the company has shown no willingness to revisit its rigid wages policy, which was implemented under the leadership of the company’s previous CEO, Alan Joyce,” Aitkens said.
Afap also represents pilots who are employed by Eastern Australia Airlines and Sunstate Airlines, both of which are subsidiaries of Qantas Group situated in New South Wales and Queensland. These pilots are now negotiating pay settlements on their own and last week decided to authorize the taking of legally justified strike action.
Afap pilots work for the subsidiaries and run the Qantas Link services, which include flights to Victoria and South Australia in addition to flights within the states in which the companies are headquartered. The three subsidiaries as a whole have a union membership rate that is greater than 85 percent.
“We’re attempting to find a solution to this problem and stay away from any kind of industrial action. “We are disappointed that the AFAP has chosen to move towards industrial action while we have been trying to negotiate, as our proposed agreement offers significant pay raises and more guaranteed days off during each roster period,” the representative said. “Our proposed agreement also includes more guaranteed days off during each roster period.”
The proposal for a work stoppage comes as the chairman of Qantas, Richard Goyder, continues to ignore calls for him to resign from his position despite mounting pressure.
While testifying on Wednesday in front of a senate investigation, Goyder was repeatedly questioned about his effectiveness as the chairman of Qantas in light of recent scandals that have engulfed the airline. Additionally, Goyder was questioned about his ability to serve in the job given that he is also the chairman of Woodside and the AFL Commission.
After monitoring the brand damage experienced from various crises that prompted former CEO Alan Joyce into an early resignation, shareholder advocates, corporate governance experts, and a separate Qantas pilots union have all asked for Goyder to step down from his position.
Goyder stated in his response to the investigation that “major shareholders are very strongly supporting me staying,” and “I would also argue that my history in business has been one of high ethics, looking to create value for all of our stakeholders.”
In recent years, Qantas has maintained strained relations with unions. The airline is currently facing legal procedures from the Transport Workers Union over the outsourcing of ground handlers, in addition to legal proceedings from the union representing Australian and International Pilots.
After taking over from her predecessor, newly appointed CEO Vanessa Hudson had given indications that she hoped to improve relations with labor unions.