“Since January, we have had constructive discussions on a new enterprise contract.” Despite AFAP`s repeated attempts to initiate negotiations and find a solution, the company refused to participate meaningfully in the process and then referred the matter to a conciliation before Vice-President Colman of the Fair Labour Commission (FWC) under the Fair Work Act s.240. This allowed DP Colman to provide assistance to the parties to contribute to an agreement, but he was unable to make a binding order to the parties without the agreement of both parties to allow arbitration. The spokeswoman said: “We are still committed to reaching agreement on a new EBA to support the great work our employees do every day, but not at any cost.” The pilots then voted in favour of the contract, which replaces a previous enterprise contract, which expired in 2017, and submitted it for approval to the Fair Work Commission. The agreement was signed by both AFAP and the Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA). It can be read entirely on the Fair Work Commission website. But the blockade was broken in March, when the airline and the two unions representing the pilots reached an agreement in principle. The Fair Labour Commission approved the new agreement on 28 May and it was influenced on 4 June. In order to increase pressure on the pilot group prior to the shutdown, the company published, without consultation with AFAP and contrary to its agreement not to publish information during the ongoing negotiations, a proposal to transfer all pilots to a single fixed type of rolling table, with days off proposed by the company to match their operation. At that time, Tigerair pilots were either on a fixed schedule of 5 days, 3 days off, or a flexi-roster that had no fixed days off, but a guaranteed number of free weekends. The conflict is due to the failure of negotiations on enterprise agreements.
Negotiations on the new operating contract had been ongoing for more than two years and the pilots did not receive a pay increase during this period. As a result, the pilots were also reimbursed for the period up to December 2017. Negotiations on marathon airlines have been ongoing for more than two years, with the impasse leading to a work stoppage in January, during which 15 flights were either cancelled or rescheduled. In 2011, the federal government of Julia Gillard`s work stepped up the attack on airline employees and intervened in a long-running feud at Qantas to criminalize strikes by the Fair Work Commission`s labour court. The unions supported this approach and signed a balance agreement that paved the way for the dismissal of about 3,000 flight attendants at Qantas in 2011 and another 5,000 in 2014. Tigerair, owned by Virgin Australia, has been in negotiations with the unions that cover pilots, the Australian Air Pilots Federation (AFAP) and Virgin Australia Group Pilots (VIPA) since the previous agreement expired two years ago. “The outcome of this agreement allows for greater productivity while addressing the important elements of work-life balance,” he said. Under the agreement, Tigerair pilots would be paid five percent less than their Jetstar counterparts, who also receive lower wages than most other airlines.
The base annual salary for Tigerair flight captains would be 184,148 $US per year, compared to 200,813 $US for Jetstar. The basic annual salary for tigerair first officer pilots would be 101,281 $US in the first two years of employment. AFAP stated that the agreement also maintained fixed rolling tables of five days and three days off on site, while adding “protection measures against service changes that allow pilots to better plan their lives.”
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