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Qantas, ALAEA reach deal

By Hpanchal on December 19, 2011

Qantas has reached a pay deal with the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, one of the three unions it has been battling since mid-2010. Under the proposed agreement, the Australian carrier will provide ALAEA members with a 3-percent annual raise until Dec. 31, 2014.

This settlement signals good news for Qantas, which grounded its entire fleet in October in response to labor disputes with the ALAEA, the Australian and International Pilots Association, and the Transport Workers Union.

“The union is still demanding significant pay increases and guarantees that old work practices remain in place despite new-generation aircraft requiring less maintenance, less often,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said at the time.

Two months later, the situation seems to have taken a turn for the better. Qantas’ proposed deal with the ALAEA covers the pay rates of approximately 1,600 licensed aircraft maintenance engineers and discusses retirement plans and job security.

Similar deals with the TWU and AIPA haven’t been cut yet, but new reports suggest that the unions remain open to such negotiations. What’s more, Qantas has reached out to Fair Work Australia for binding arbitration in the dispute with both unions.

The Australian carrier, along with the ALAEA, has also submitted its proposal concerning the current deal to Fair Work Australia. To Joyce, it’s a favorable outcome in what he describes as a “damaging industrial campaign.”

“The proposal submitted to Fair Work Australia is a good deal for Qantas and its licensed engineers,” Joyce said in a statement. “However, it does not contain any of the restrictive demands that would have handed control of parts of the airline to the union. Throughout the negotiation process, we have been willing to offer reasonable pay increases and conditions — provided the union withdraw its attempts to influence how Qantas is run.”

This news comes on the heels of Boeing’s settled labor dispute with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The machinists’ union ratified Boeing’s contract-extension proposal on December 7 regarding the production of the 737 MAX in Washington’s Puget Sound region.

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