Qantas has responded to an announcement that more than 700 aircraft engineers from Qantas and Jetstar are planning to stop work for “one-minute” in August.
The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association (ALAEA) federal secretary Steve Purvinas told members in a meeting on Wednesday the majority had voted in favour of industrial action.
Airline engineers are asking their employer for a 12 per cent pay rise to make up for stagnant wages the last four years.
The union’s first action will be a one-minute stoppage across all airlines sometime in late August.
Qantas engineering executive manager Scott McConnell has said the airline is “disappointed” in the union’s decision to strike and is putting contingency plans in place to deal with disruptions.
“It’s extremely disappointing the union has taken this step towards industrial action,” Mr McConnell said.
“The union has repeatedly said that any industrial action won’t impact customers’ travel plans and, while we hope they stick to their word, we’re also putting in place contingency plans in case they don’t.
“The entire aviation sector is still recovering from the impact of Covid, and the threat of industrial action is the last thing travellers need.”
“The first action will be a token one,” Mr Purvinas told members.
“A one-minute stoppage of course is not going to harm any airline and also demonstrates our willingness to negotiate in good faith and not try and harm the airline.”
Mr Purvinas said the token stoppage aimed to give the airlines an opportunity to come to the table.
“We do want to give some time for resolution of these matters before we have to do anything that may even be close to disrupting the public,” he said.
The strikes come at a difficult time for Australia’s national flag carrier, as the aviation industry struggles with staff shortages that have led to flight cancellations, delays and missing luggage.
If the stoppage does not motivate negotiations, the union plans to notify the airline of more work stoppages.
During these stoppages, the union has offered to provide “alternative labour provisions” to the airline.
“We want to assure the public that we won’t be harming their services,” Mr Purvinas said.
“Our target is the airlines who are not negotiating in good faith.”
ALAEA members voted against using overtime bans to avoid “exacerbating” already challenging conditions in the industry.
A Qantas spokesman told the NCA NewsWire in July that the 12 per cent pay rise was something the airline “simply can’t afford”.
They said Qantas had a policy of 2 per cent annual increases for all employees across the Group.
The airline has a history of not holding back when it comes to dealing with union industrial action.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce infamously grounded the airline during a dispute with the ALAEA and two other unions back in 2011, leaving 200,000 passengers stranded without notice.