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Qantas Warns of Possible Union Strikes

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Qantas has been notified by the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) that they will take industrial action as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

The airline is now assessing the impact of rolling two hour work stoppages by Qantas licensed aircraft line maintenance engineers in Melbourne on Monday 4 July and a ban on overtime for all Qantas licensed engineers for the foreseeable future.

Our priority is to the Australian travelling public and we are currently assessing our contingency plans to minimise the disruptions to our customers, said Qantas Group Executive Operations, Lyell Strambi.

Mr Strambi said the union leaders had shown their true colours by calling industrial action over the school holidays and then making a blatantly cynical offer for Qantas licensed engineers who are on strike to return to work for four times their normal pay.

No Australian company would pay staff four times their normal rate to go on strike. What incentive would the union have to reach an agreement with workers earning more money while on strike? If the union is serious about not disrupting the travel plans of Australians then they should call off the strikes immediately, Mr. Strambi added. This reckless action comes on the day that Qantas normal flight operations have resumed and Qantas passengers are finally getting to their destinations following the disruptions caused by the volcanic ash from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle Volcano in Chile. This has caused disruptions and delays to more than 200,000 Qantas Group passengers over the past two weeks, costing the Group $21 million for the first week of cancellations alone.

Mr Strambi said Qantas could not agree with the unions unreasonable and excessive demands including their wage claim and demands that there be no change to current work practices which improve efficiencies and productivity.

We want to reach a fair and reasonable negotiated outcome with our workers but we just cannot accept union demands for a veto on change which would damage Qantas, restrict our business and jeopardise the jobs of their members and all other Qantas employees, he said.

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