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

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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.

Pilots protected industrial action continues

In the aftermath of the threat posed by ex-Tropical Cyclone Lincoln last week, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) has locked in a further 24-hour stoppage to be taken on 4 March 2024. 

The latest addition to the protected industrial action from pilots operating within Qantas’ (ASX:QAN) wholly owned subsidiary Network Aviation has been scheduled as part of an ongoing battle to reignite stalled wage negotiations. 

More than 230 pilots (of a total 250) employed by Network Aviation are members of the AFAP and are eligible to take this industrial action approved by the Fair Work Commission. 

The upcoming 24-hour stoppage comes amid 3 consecutive 24-hour stop work orders which began yesterday (28 February 2024) through to 1 March 2024. 

Qantas is currently offering flexibility to its customers who have booked flights between Perth and various regional cities on or prior to 26 February for travel yesterday through to 1 March, and from 28 February through to 4 March.  

The airline major says customers travelling to Broome, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Karratha, Learmonth, Paraburdoo, Port Hedland, Newman, Darwin, and Adelaide airports are eligible for a fee-free refund, travel credit, or date change. 

As reported by Mining.com.au earlier this week, more than half of the 250-strong pilot workforce indicated at a recent meeting they may soon leave to fly for other airlines which provide far better pay and conditions.

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 Drought at Mining.com.au

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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Rolling industrial action resumes amid potential pilot exodus

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) has locked-in 3 consecutive 24-hour stoppages of all work from 28 February through to 1 March 2024 after suspending a 4-day period of industrial action at the request of the Western Australia state government last week.

The rolling industrial action has resumed at a time in which more than half the 250-strong pilot workforce, employed by Qantas (ASX:QAN) subsidiary Network Aviation, indicated at a recent meeting they may soon leave to fly for other airlines. 

Other airlines include those offering far better pay and conditions, according to AFAP Senior Industrial Officer Chris Aikens.  

Aikens says with attracting and retaining pilots becomes even more difficult for the airline, a potential exodus of pilots will have a “significant” impact on both Qantas and the Western Australia economy as long as Qantas continues failing to address the inequities of treating Network pilots like “second-class citizens”.

More than 230 pilots (of a total 250) employed by Network Aviation are members of the AFAP and are eligible to take this industrial action approved by the Fair Work Commission.

As reported by Mining.com.au last week, the latest wave of industrial action from pilots employed by Qantas subsidiary Network Aviation was cancelled given the risk posed by ex-Tropical Cyclone Lincoln in northwest Western Australia to enable evacuation flights to potentially take place if needed.

Aikens says: “Our Network pilot representatives decided to suspend the stop work action planned for this weekend as it was the professional and right thing to do to remove people from potential harm.”

However, Aikens is not oblivious to Qantas enlisting the services of its B737 aircraft from the Eastern States, as well as other charter aircraft from other airlines to satiate the continuous disruptions caused to Western Australian fly in, fly out (FIFO) workers and miners who rely on Network Aviation to ferry workers to and from mine sites.  

“We understand that the airline has brought Qantas B737 aircraft from the Eastern states and charter aircraft from other airlines.

Qantas management would prefer to spend up to $8 million a day trying to ride this storm rather than investing in its pilot workforce in Western Australia.

What the pilots are asking for is just a drop in the ocean for the company given the half-year profit of $1.25 billion posted yesterday.

Despite the need to take further action, we remain open to meeting with the company in the hope that it can offer something that will be acceptable to this pilot group.”

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

No end in sight as WA pilots stay grounded

Western Australian miners and FIFO workers are set for further frustration after the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) has provided Qantas with notice of a further day of industrial action to be taken by its Network Aviation members on 22 February.

AFAP Senior Industrial Officer Chris Aikens says ongoing and rolling PIA will continue unless Western Australia Network Aviation and QantasLink pilots are no longer “treated as second-class citizens within the Qantas Group (ASX:QAN)”.

“These pilots are keen to meet the new QantasLink CEO to explain the depth of discontent widely felt amongst the pilot group. The members were agreed that, if the company was willing to come to the meeting with a potential resolution to the ongoing dispute, then serious consideration will be given to cancelling this, and any future, stop work action.

We sincerely hope that this meeting between the new QantasLink CEO and the pilots on Monday does go ahead. The pilots are keen to express their genuine frustration to her in person while she is in Perth and hope she can bring something new to the table that shows the value she places on these pilots.”  

On 14 February 2024, the AFAP announced the first of 6 rolling 24-hour work stoppages after a further 3 days were added to ongoing PIA, as reported by Mining.com.au.

The additional 3 days were added after Qantas management walked away from negotiations and took previously agreed items off the bargaining table, according to Aikens. 

The PIA, which began on 5 February, is being undertaken due to stalled wage negotiations as a result of the expiration of the Network Aviation Pilots Enterprise Agreement 2016 on 31 October 2020. 

With 5,500 members, the AFAP is the largest professional association and industrial organisation for commercial pilots and Australia. The pilots fly jet aircraft for QantasLink (passenger transport) and Network Aviation (charter contracts), which are used to ferry FIFO workers to and from mines across the state.     

Members of the AFAP make up 90% of the more than 250 pilots employed by Network Aviation and are eligible to take part in the lawful PIA approved by the Fair Work Commission last year. 

Network Aviation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qantas which has offered air charter services since 1998. 

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

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Author Image
Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.