Qantas Network Aviation pilots vote to approve protected industrial action

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Melbourne

IATAThe Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) has made successful applications to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for protected industrial action (PIA) ballots of members flying for Qantas Group airline operators Network Aviation (based in Western Australia), Eastern (based in New South Wales and Victoria) and Sunstate (based in Queensland and South Australia).

These three pilot groups have been attempting to negotiate new enterprise agreements to replace:

  • Network Aviation Pilots Enterprise Agreement 2016 (expired 31 Oct 2020)
  • Eastern Australia Airlines Pty Limited Pilots Enterprise Agreement 2019 (expired 31 Dec 2022)
  • Sunstate Airlines (QLD) Pty Limited Pilots Enterprise Agreement 2019 (expired 31 Dec 2022)

The AFAP’s Network members are employed by aircraft charter and passenger operator Network Aviation, which is a wholly owned Qantas subsidiary. Eastern and Sunstate members are employed by Australia’s largest regional passenger airline QantasLink.

“Network pilots are paid significantly lower than pilots at comparable airlines,” said AFAP Senior Industrial Officer Chris Aikens. “The AFAP has been genuinely negotiating and trying to reach an agreement with Qantas management but the company remains unwilling to revisit its inflexible wages policy instituted under the former CEO. With more than 85 percent of Network pilots being AFAP members, the pilot group is highly engaged and keen to make progress with these negotiations,” said Mr Aikens.

Protected Industrial Action (PIA) allows employees to lawfully stop work, or to perform their work in a different manner to which it is normally performed to support their claims during bargaining for an enterprise agreement. The legal framework for PIA is established in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), and it is a completely lawful and legitimate way for employees to engage in the bargaining process.

PIA can only commence after a successful ballot has taken place and after the required notice has been provided to the company. At this stage, the AFAP has only received approval from the FWC to conduct a ballot of its pilot members working for each airline – Network, Eastern and Sunstate.

The FWC has approved for pilots to vote on a range of action, including imposing work bans (refusing to perform all their normal duties) to going on strike (refusing to attend or perform work).

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