Published on Monday, November 21, 2011

Qantas and unions fail to agree

Qantas has failed to reach agreement with pilots and ground staff in an ongoing industrial dispute, forcing it into arbitration.

Qantas and two unions had been ordered by Fair Work Australia, the industrial relations umpire, to reach an agreement by today.

This followed Qantas grounding its entire fleet to force an end to the strikes in October.

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said while Qantas preferred option had been to resolve the dispute through negotiations, it was now time to let Fair Work Australia bring the matter to a close.

“We haven’t been able to reach a new agreement with the Australian and International Pilots Association through negotiations so we will now let the independent umpire decide,” Mr Joyce said.

“We did make some progress in negotiations with movement on both sides however in the end we were unable to reach a new agreement for our 1600 long-haul pilots.

“Fair Work Australia ordered the Australian and International Pilots Association to stop all industrial action which means it cannot take any action during the arbitration period and for the term of Fair Work Australia’s determination, which will be for a period of up to four years.

“The pilots’ union has launched a legal challenge against the decision by Fair Work Australia to terminate all industrial action, the Federal Government has indicated that they will vigorously defend the decision and are confident the union will not be successful.

"We are right behind the Government on this."

ITF general secretary David Cockroft said: "Alan Joyce has rejected the ALAEA's suggestions and snubbed the TWU, which had asked for an extension to the negotiating period in order to find a solution that was satisfactory to all parties.

"You have to ask whether this man is really interested in ending these problems, or whether he's hellbent on carrying on with the bull-in-a-china-shop approach so luridy illustrated by his locking out his own staff and passengers."

By Diane Evans

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