Substantial win for aviation workers in Australia

August 16, 2012

Aviation workers in Australia have won a new agreement providing them with significant improvements in pay and conditions.

The workers, represented by the ITF-affiliated Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and employed by Qantas, won the settlement on 8 August following a decision by Fair Work Australia (FWA), the national workplace relations tribunal. FWA decided that a “workplace determination” should replace the old TWU/Qantas enterprise agreement, which had expired in July 2011. According to the union, the matter was referred to FWA when Qantas refused to negotiate reasonably.

The agreement covers Qantas workers and employees of Q-Catering, which provides catering services to the airline. They are set to benefit from a number of provisions including a three per cent pay increase backdated to 1 July 2011 and a commitment that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a direct consequence of the use of contracted labour. The union was particularly concerned about job security after Qantas’ subsidiary company Jetstar began outsourcing work.

Speaking on the day of the decision, TWU Qantas member Grant Mitchell, who works at Brisbane Airport at International Ramp Services said: “Last year Qantas did everything they could to bully us into submission – by standing together as TWU members we’ve shown the like of Alan Joyce [Qantas’ chief executive officer] and Leigh Clifford [Qantas chairman] that they can’t push us around. Today’s decision guarantees better job protections for all TWU Qantas workers and a better future for Australian aviation workers and their families.”

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon added: "I know that Qantas workers will welcome a number of specific provisions handed down today, including the three per cent salary increase per year, which will be backdated to July 2011. Of huge significance is FWA's verdict that Qantas workers were right to be concerned for job security in the face of outsourcing by Qantas-Jetstar management. FWA found in favour of the TWU's job security claim, with new job security protections that will prevent Qantas from making employees redundant in order to replace them with cheaper outsourced labour. I want to pay tribute to Qantas workers who stood up for their jobs, their communities and fairness in Australia by taking on this militant employer.”

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