Court ends Qantas strike; services resume
Qantas said it would resume services by mid-afternoon on Monday 31 October 2011, subject to approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), after a two-day stoppage caused by industrial action.
Australia’s largest carrier grounded its entire 108-aircraft fleet on Saturday, 29 October, over the labour dispute. The resumption of services was announced after an Australian arbitration court stepped in to end a week of strikes and cancelled a staff lockout.
“Fair Work Australia this morning granted the Australian Government’s application to terminate all industrial action by the Australian Licensed Engineers Union, the Transport Workers Union, the Australian and International Pilots Union and Qantas,” the airline said in a statement on 31 October.
The airline continued: “Under the orders issued by Fair Work Australia, there will now be up to 21 days of negotiations between the parties. No industrial action can take place during this period. If no agreement is reached during this period, binding arbitration will take place under the control of Fair Work Australia.”
According to Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce: “This is a good outcome that will enable us to begin operating flights this afternoon [Monday] on a limited schedule with the approval of the regulator, CASA.”
Joyce added that operations would resume progressively, with the goal of restoring the airline’s schedule to normal “as soon as possible”, while prioritising safety at all times.
“The industrial process has now passed into the hands of the independent umpire,” Joyce said. “All parties will be treated equally and we will respect the decisions that are made. We have new and existing agreements with 12 unions. We now anticipate the conclusion of agreements with the remaining three.”
Rolling strikes by unions representing pilots, mechanics, baggage handlers and caterers have forced the cancellation of 600 flights in recent months, disrupting travel for about 70,000 passengers. The strikes have been blamed for a sharp drop in bookings for the airline and are expected to cost Qantas about A$70 million (US$74 million).
Analysts estimate that grounding Qantas’s fleet would have cost about US$20 million a day.