Qantas & unions head for a showdown, but strikes remain possible

By David Flynn, November 24 2011
Qantas & unions head for a showdown, but strikes remain possible

Discussions between Qantas and all three unions involved in industrial disputes have broken down without reaching a resolution.

The collapse of negotiations came at the end of the 21 day 'sit down and sort it out' period decreed by Fair Work Australia following months of strikes and October's dramatic 48-hour shutdown of all Qantas domestic and international flights.

So what happens now?

The issue will now bounce back into the hands of Fair Work Australia, which is empowered to enact 'binding arbitration' – in other words, to come up with an agreement which both Qantas and the unions must honour.

How long will this take?

Richard Woodward, vice-president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, suggested Fair Work Australia will take "many, many months" to come up with a new employment agreement due "the complex nature of the contract".

FWA must also develop a similar agreement between Qantas and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, as well as the Transport Workers Union which represents up to 3,800 Qantas ground crew and staff dealing with baggage, catering and freight.

Will there be more strikes?

The FWA's October 31 ruling which forced unions to call off their crippling strikes against Qantas remains in force during the arbitration period.

Although the TWU initially contemplated mounting a legal challenge to the FWA decree, the union today confirmed that it will not launch an appeal against the decision by Fair Work Australia to terminate all industrial action.

But this doesn't mean strikes can be ruled out, as the TWU has shifted its weight to backing a similar appeal against the FWA ruling being made by the polit's union.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas & unions head for a showdown, but strikes remain possible