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Issue #1549      30 May 2012

Govt must intervene in Qantas maintenance decision

Unions have slammed the announcement by Qantas to sack hundreds of engineering workers saying that the decision will decimate Australia’s aircraft maintenance and engineering capacity and threaten the nation’s security.

The Qantas Engineers Alliance, made up of AMWU, AWU and ETU members, has called on the federal government to intervene immediately in the decision to safeguard Australia’s capacity to maintain aircraft now and into the future.

“This short-sighted decision by Qantas deserves to be roundly condemned. Not only does it have a devastating impact on workers in Victoria and their families, it threatens the very capability of Australia to continue to maintain its aircraft,” said Paul Bastian, national secretary of the AMWU.

“Qantas employs 6,000 or almost two-thirds of Australia’s total aircraft maintenance workforce. It is also responsible for providing more than 50 percent of the training in this sector. It has a broader social responsibility as our national carrier, but this decision pays little heed to that.

“The review that has led to this decision has failed to consider planning to ensure the nation’s future capability to maintain aircraft. It has failed to look at long term plans such as sourcing maintenance work from other airlines in the region, choosing instead to shun national interests in favour of shareholder returns,” Mr Bastian said.

Cesar Melham, secretary of the Victorian branch of the AWU said “Our concern is that this decision is the thin edge of wedge as fleets start to be retired.

“We are likely to see further loss of jobs at other sites and we have no guarantees from Qantas about how they will ensure the long term viability of aircraft maintenance in this country.

“We are calling on government to immediately intervene and call an urgent aviation industry round table before any jobs and critical skills are lost. This should be done in the interests of our nation’s capability and future security,” Mr Melham said.

Next article – Labor’s agenda for the ACTU

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