Qantas seeks to terminate contracts with long-haul flight crews

Jan 20, 2022: According to a Reuters report, Qantas Airways Limited said on Thursday that it would seek to terminate the terms of its agreement with long-haul attendants, a move that would lead to major pay cuts as unions voted against more flexible rostering.

Qantas said it was the first time in its history that it had sought to terminate the terms of employment agreement, or agreement between employers and unions, an unusual and heated move in industrial relations in Australia. If successful, the cabin crew’s pay and conditions will return to a very low Australian minimum industry standard, while a new contract will be negotiated.

The move prepares the airline for a high-profile union battle at a time when it needs to reach an agreement with short-haul crew to seal the business deal of a large Airbus SE narrow-body aircraft.

Qantas’ latest contract offer to long-haul flights attendants was rejected by 97% in a vote in December.

The airline said a union counter-offer was “unworkable” as it would have raised costs by $43.30 million over four years.

Qantas International Chief Executive Andrew David said, “We’re seeking termination because we can’t effectively run our business without the rostering changes we desperately need to properly restart our international network in a post-COVID world,”

Under the current agreement, cabin crew operating on A330 cannot be used on 787 and A380s, making it difficult for Qantas to change aircraft types.

The airline is currently operating only 20% of its precovid 19 international capacity in the current quarter. Qantas said the request is expected to be processed by the Australian Fairwork Commission in the coming weeks, with the airline requesting an early hearing. It said it was open to putting the rejected deal back on the table.

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