Fair Work Commission issues order in pilot impasse

The Fair Work Commission on Friday issued an intractable bargaining declaration made with a 13-day post-declaration negotiating period, meaning Qantas-owned Network Aviation and the union representing hundreds of WA pilots have to 28 March 2024 to come to an agreement.

The Fair Work Commission’s decision issued on 15 March regarding the intractable bargaining declaration is on the grounds the dispute has reached an impasse and is seen as a win for Network Aviation.

In a ballot on 12 March, 77% of all pilots flying for Network Aviation and QantasLink in Western Australia ‘emphatically’ voted down the company’s re-tabled offer. The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) says it is exactly the same agreement voted down in January with a 57% no vote.

Following a meeting on 8 March of AFAP members (95% of the pilot group), the AFAP negotiating team notified Qantas management that 2 further days of stop work action were to take place on 14 and 15 March.

These days of protected industrial action (PIA) were to coincide with the hearing dates scheduled at the FWC to determine whether bargaining has become intractable (or not). 

A pilot support fund has received contributions from AFAP members and others across the country to support fellow pilots in need during this period of ongoing PIA.

The AFAP says many of the pilots have fallen below the Air Pilots Award.

“The 25% pay increase cited as being on offer would simply serve to bring the lowest-paid pilots in this group up to the rates in the Air Pilots Award which the FWC considers to be the bare legal minimum,” the AFAP says.

The AFAP represents more than 90% of the commercial pilots employed by Qantas subsidiary Network Aviation to fly both passenger transport (QantasLink), and fly in, fly out (FIFO) and private charter aircraft (Network Aviation) in Western Australia. 

The pilot group is negotiating a new enterprise agreement to replace the Network Aviation Pilots Enterprise Agreement 2016 that expired on 31 October 2020. 

With more than 5,500 members, the AFAP is the professional association and industrial organisation for commercial pilots in Australia flying domestically and internationally.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: AFAP
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.