Engineers at Qantas and Jetstar are poised to take industrial action in a bid to break a stalemate in pay negotiations.
The majority of members of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALEA) have voted in favour of industrial action in coming weeks, with Qantas, Jetstar and charter operator Network Aviation among the carriers affected.
The results of the ballot mean protected industrial action is now approved across all the Qantas-owned companies, ALEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas said in a message to members on Wednesday.
The first action will be a “token” one minute stoppage that won’t affect any airline or passenger, Mr Purvinas said.
“We hope that might be enough to get the airlines to change their view on things,” he said in the YouTube clip.
“We are sensing that there might be a shift anyway, and we do want to give some time for resolution of these matters before we have to go in and do anything that may even come close with disrupting the public.”
Longer stoppages may be in store if the tactic fails, however the ALEA says alternative labour provisions will be provided to avoid delays.
“We do not want to get the public offside and also we do not want to open up opportunities for the company to go running off to the Fair Work Commission saying that we’ve gone too far,” Mr Purvinas said.
“We want to create a financial penalty for (the companies) to have to find alternative labour that we will offer that will be more expensive.”
A spokesman for Qantas and Jetstar said they were dismayed the unions had taken the step toward industrial action.
“We’ve been negotiating in good faith on the agreements – this action from the union is completely unnecessary,” Qantas Engineering Executive Manager Scott McConnell said.
“With the industry still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, the last thing it needs is the threat of industrial action.
“Should the union proceed with industrial action, we have contingency plans to minimise any disruptions.”
Mr McConnell said the airline had committed to pay increases for our licensed engineers.
“But the union’s pay claims are as high as 12 per cent for one year, or three times the wage increases already agreed to this year by thousands of our employees.”
Qantas will meet with union officials next week, while negotiations for Jetstar’s engineers’ agreements recommenced in May.