Qantas flights will resume this afternoon after the Australian government agreed to terminate all industrial action by the airline’s three disruptive unions.
Under the orders issued by Fair Work Australia, Qantas will now undertake up to 21 days of negotiations with the Australian Licenced Engineers Union (ALAEA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Australian & International Pilots Union (AIPA), during which time no strikes or other disruptive activity can take place.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce said he was happy with the decision.
“This is a good outcome that will enable us to begin operating flights this afternoon on a limited schedule,” Joyce said. “Operations will resume progressively from this afternoon. Our focus is bringing our schedule back to normal as soon as possible.
“This has been a challenging period for Qantas, its employees, its customers and its shareholders. We sincerely regret the impact on customers of industrial action over recent months, and the effect on employees,” Joyce said, adding that he was looking forward to a “period of stability” following the recent upheaval.
Qantas had taken the unprecedented decision of grounding its entire mainline aircraft fleet on Saturday, as its battle with the labour unions reached breaking point. The airline had “locked out” striking members of ALAEA, AIPA and the TWU, in a desperate effort to force a settlement after months of damaging strikes.
Joyce will now feel vindicated that his tough stance with the unions has apparently paid off. He revealed on Friday that the unions’ rolling strikes were costing Qantas AU$15 million (US$16 million) per week, but Joyce said that “agreeing to the unions’ unreasonable demands would have a far greater cost on the company including risking the future of Qantas”.
“We have got to bring this to an end,” Joyce said on Saturday. “I have no option but to force the issue… In response to the unions’ industrial action, I announce that… Qantas will lock out all those employees who will be covered by the agreements currently being negotiated with the ALAEA, the TWU and AIPA.”
This led to the grounding of the entire Qantas mainline fleet worldwide, and caused chaos at airports across the globe.