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Qantas Wants to Rip Up Cabin Crew Agreement in Major Dispute With Flight Attendant Union

Qantas Wants to Rip Up Cabin Crew Agreement in Major Dispute With Flight Attendant Union

Australian flag carrier Qantas wants to rip up an employment contract that covers cabin crew working international flights in a move that would plunge crew members onto much lower pay and conditions. The airline has applied to the national arbiter the Fair Work Commission to terminate the Long Haul Cabin Crew agreement and is seeking an expedited hearing.

The dispute surrounds a move from Qantas for more flexible rostering practices but the enterprise agreement proposed by the airline was rejected by 97 per cent of crew who voted in a recent ballot.

At present, Qantas has around 500 cabin crew who are only permitted to fly on Airbus A330 aircraft. The remaining 80 per cent of serving cabin crew are only permitted to fly on either the Airbus A380 or Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Qantas wants international cabin crew to be able to fly on any of the three aircraft types the airline currently operates.

Andrew David, chief executive of Qantas International says the measure is necessary in a post-Covid world where airlines need increased flexibility to rapidly change aircraft types on different routes.

“The challenges facing airlines are pretty obvious and, even though we’re flying internationally again, it’s clear that we have to operate in a more agile and flexible way than we did pre-COVID in order to recover and match customer demand,” David commented.

“The level of complexity we’re dealing with is huge.”

Qantas also wants to combine two separate rostering systems in return for a four-year deal that would bring pay rises and increased allowances. The FAAA flight attendant union proposed a counter offer but Qantas rejected the proposal claiming it would cost the airline an extra A$60 million a year.

If the Fair Work Commission approves the application from Qantas, the pay and conditions for international cabin crew would revert to what is known as the ‘modern award’ which guarantees a minimum pay and allowances system which is much lower than what cabin crew currently earn.

The Fair Work Commission has already accepted Qantas’ argument that it needs to change its rostering practices so the commission might be sympathetic to the latest bid to rip up the cabin crew contract. The commission must also take into consideration the views of employees and decide whether it is in the public interest before making a decision.

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