Monday, 11 July 2011

Qantas pilots vote to authorise strikes, seek more talks


Australia's Qantas Airways  faces a risk of more industrial unrest after a pilot's union authorised strike action, though a work stoppage did not look imminent as the union said it wanted to continue talks with the airline.

The Australian and International Pilots Association, which represents 2,500 pilots, voted to authorise strikes by long haul pilots for up to two full days, marking what could be the first industrial action by pilots since 1966, the union said.

"We now have a management team in charge who believe that you can shift operations to Asia, outsource the jobs of Australian pilots and not do damage as part of the process. They are wrong," said union president Barry Jackson.

Qantas pilots have been demanding increased job security amid talk the airline is planning to revamp its loss-making international operations, and may axe some routes and move some operations overseas.

The airline is due to announce a restructuring of its international operations on August 24.

The union's vice president said pilots preferred to negotiate with the airline.

"We're very conscious of disrupting the travelling public, we don't intend to do that... We'd rather have the management negotiate," union vice president Richard Woodward said.

Their vote comes after Qantas engineers authorized a series of brief rolling strikes last month to protest over pay conditions and the airline's growing use of overseas maintenance workers.

Australia faces this year what employers say could be the worst period of industrial unrest in decades, with disputes hitting airlines, ports and mines as unions use an unprecedented resources boom and labour shortage to fight for a greater share of profits.

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