Qantas gets its 'flexible' deal for 3% wage rise

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Qantas gets its 'flexible' deal for 3% wage rise

Qantas has got the working flexibility and cost-cutting it demanded from its maintenance workers for its now standard 3% pay rise each year for three years.

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Qantas has got the working flexibility and cost-cutting it demanded from its maintenance workers for its now standard 3% pay rise each year for three years.

Faced with threats to take the maintenance jobs offshore, the unions have been forced to settle for a deal which give them little but at least maintains the jobs in Australia. As well, the unions have had to settle for a written deal on some key issues which cannot be in the enterprise agreement because of the WorkChoices ban on non-allowable matters.

After 10 months of talks Qantas has announced it is 'pleased' with its new enterprise agreement with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

Rise backdated

The deal gives the maintenance workers a 9% pay rise over the three years to 31 December, 2008. The increase will be backdated to the expiry of the previous agreement last December.

AMWU Assistant National Secretary, Glenn Thompson, said the agreement was a 'far better position than the aggressive agenda' that Qantas had taken into the talks. Qantas has agreed to scrap its contentious plan to have maintenance workers build up a 'bank' of overtime pay which would be used to pay workers when they were not needed, such as in shutdowns or quiet times.

Instead unions have agreed to have workers build up rostered days off (RDOs) in busy times and use them in quiet periods. Under this arrangement Qantas can reschedule six of the employees' 12 annual RDOs with 24 hours notice if an aircraft due for maintenance has been delayed and won't be available.

More efficient

Thompson said the overtime bank would have amounted to an average $850 a year pay cut for members. However, either way gives Qantas the ability to use its maintenance staff more efficiently, with the workers adjusting their working rosters to suit the company's needs.

The introduction of WorkChoices has hampered the unions in their negotiations, as the full range of industrial action such as overtime bans and work to rule are no longer as easy to implement as they once were.

Qantas is also facing a new battle next month, when it commences enterprise bargaining with the Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Association.

A decision is also pending on whether to close the Tullamarine 737 heavy maintenance base which could result in the loss of 1000 jobs. The maintenance enterprise agreement will be put to the 700 workers by union officials within the next two weeks.

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