One step forward, two steps back: Engineers at Qantas to strike

One step forward, two steps back: Engineers at Qantas to strike

Officials at the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAE) in Australia have confirmed plans to take industrial action at Qantas following the announcement of job losses at the airline.

Qantas confirmed as many as 1,000 employees would lost their jobs – principally through voluntary redundancy – as part of wide ranging reforms to the carrier outlined earlier this week.

Under the plans, Qantas revealed it would launch two new airlines – low-cost JetStar Japan and a premium Asian carrier – while also overhauling its fleet, ground operations and in-flight entertainment.

The survival of the airline was on the line, said chief executive Alan Joyce.

However, modernisation has been greeted with scepticism by the ALAE, which confirmed earlier 1,600 engineers at Qantas would take it turns to refuse to work for the first hour of their shifts.

The action will take place from August 25th until Friday December 16th 2011 inclusive, said a statement.

Brisbane line maintenance workers will not start work until an hour later on Mondays, with Melbourne line maintenance finishing the action on Fridays.

However, in a challenge to the airline, the ALAE has offered to replace the workers – at a cost – to minimise disruption to passengers.

“To prevent disruption of Qantas flights ALAEA members - primarily those ending dayshift - will be available to work overtime to cover all stoppages,” explained a statement.

“The ALAEA office will be available to assist in co-ordination of overtime for this purpose.”

Qantas is already facing industrial action from pilots, with catering staff and baggage handlers looking at the possibility of action over their bargaining claims in coming weeks.

John Borghetti, chief executive of Virgin Australia, said earlier this week the carrier intended to hire workers being made redundant by Qantas.