Employment Relationships

Essay by alchemistchildUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, September 2009

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The Qantas Engineers dispute arose when aircraft engineers and their union, the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) demanded better pay and conditions late last year. Qantas was threatened with industrial action on January 9 (‘Qantas seeks strikebreaking engineers overseas’, ABC Premium News, 24 December 2007). Gartrell (2008) reports that the union was demanding a five per cent pay rise for up to 1,700 engineers nationwide, but the airline offered only a three per cent increase.

In May, Qantas engineers went ahead with planned industrial action in the form of stop work meetings. Also put into effect by ALAEA were overtime bans for the workers. Qantas had recruited non-union engineers in Asia and the Pacific to act as strike breakers in an attempt to thwart industrial action (West & Rochfort 2008).

As a result, Qantas was affected by multiple delays and planes which were flying with minor defects (‘More Qantas plane defects as pay dispute continues’, AAP Finance News Wire, 09 June 2008).

Industrial action continued into June, where it had escalated to indefinite strikes when ALAEA announced a series of rolling stoppages for the upcoming weeks (Draper 2008).

In mid July, Qantas released details of an in-principle agreement with the union, which gave an average increase of 4.75 per cent each year for the four-year term of the enterprise agreement (O’Sullivan 2008). The agreement was later accepted by the engineers bring the months long bitter dispute to an end.

a, From a unitarist’s perspective, the whole Qantas engineers dispute would be regarded as completely irrational and unnecessary (Balnave et al. 2007). ALAEA, the aircraft engineers union, is an external force and a trouble maker, and would be seen as the main root for the problem. They are turning the company’s own workers against the company,