This week we had a number of meetings with Qantas to discuss rostering, leave burn and other related matters. I thought it would be timely to provide some feedback to you all.
Leave Burn and Related Matters
Qantas gave us a brief presentation on the operation of their leave application process. The parties are still in disagreement over the amount of leave that will finally be required to be taken by each employee to cover the LAMEs who returned to work from CR. Calculations will continue over the coming weeks.
One area where we believe leave burn should be reduced is through the number of secondments that are currently in place. We are tracking the time spent by Sydney LAMEs working in Brisbane Heavy and have asked management to supply details of any other secondments that are in place or pending. It is our view that any LAME who has been removed from the system like this should amount to a corresponding reduction in the total leave burn for each hour they work in another role. This includes SIT LAMEs acting up in the long-term vacant Supervisor positions.
The ALAEA also expressed our concern over the automatic payout of DILs when staff take a period of annual leave. Currently the airline are entitled, but not obligated, to pay them out when leave is taken. It appears that they are eager to take as much leisure time from staff as possible, which is unfortunate considering the forced reductions to other available leave types. We advised the airline that, in our view, it would be better for both parties if they ceased automatic payout of DILs and made it optional for individuals. A response on that matter is expected in two weeks when we meet them next.
We also raised concern with the proposal that Qantas may be paying out RDOs for some staff, particularly those who have been transferred from one section to another. It is our view that Qantas are not entitled to pay out RDOs unless it is agreed to by the employee. As you know RDOs are accumulated when you work extra time each week that builds towards a day off. If the company and the employee agree that the extra hours will not be taken as a day off then that time should be repaid in wages to the staff member at overtime rates, or double time, because the work was carried out above the standard 38 hour week. If you have ever been paid out an RDO (not a DIL) and weren’t remunerated at double time please send me an email explaining the details.
Some members in Sydney have contacted us asking whether the company can direct staff to take LSL as part of the leave burn program. Qantas are, and have always been, entitled to direct the taking of LSL. More important to us is to track how much is being taken as it all adds to the time that is measured against workloads that were used to justify redundancies in the first place. Other enquiries we have received relate to blocks of LSL and why the company won’t allow two 8-day periods to be split. We have yet to raise it formally with Qantas as we are getting legal advice before we proceed.
The company did not respond to an earlier request for them to explain why staff in Adelaide have been told that they will have to take their yearly accrual of LSL as part of the leave burn program. There is no leave burn in Adelaide and the company have their target level of staff there. Ports not involved in the leave burn program should see staff free to decide when they take their LSL as has always been the case. If the company force additional time off for staff above historical patterns it will leave them undermanned and unable to undertake the maintenance that has been calculated into the overall maintenance plan.
We’ve been advised that the local roster reviews in Brisbane and Adelaide are on hold whilst the airline attempt to get changes through at Sydney Domestic. In brief the airline want to ditch RDOs and inbuilt overtime from the 12 hour SDT roster and have LAMEs finish at 2AM. Although tempting for some of the staff who have been on the roster pattern for a long time there are many other consequences of the change; including that a reduction in night work in one area means that staff elsewhere will have to pick up the slack and see additional night work beyond 2AM.
The company is eager to conduct a ballot to have the change approved. They have advised us that they are positive that a majority of LAMEs at SDT would approve the change because many of them are prepared to take the wage hit in order to get an earlier finish. We met this week and stated the ALAEA’s position; that there are these two options:
Option 1 – Allow those members who want to give up their overtime and RDOs to voluntarily move to a 2AM finish. This would be done on an individual arrangement with no requirement for a ballot. If the company are sure that a vast majority would vote in favour of the roster to attain an early finish then surely a vast majority would move to it voluntarily.
This way the company would not be able to force those LAMEs who couldn’t afford the pay reduction to change rosters and keep some staff at the tarmac between 2AM and 5AM. To be honest, it is a nonsense for the company to pretend that there would be no need for Domestic LAMEs after 2AM, most nights now they are using Domestic LAMEs for licence coverage on 738 and/or 330 aircraft in SAM anyway.
Option 2 – Go to a ballot with the ALAEA remaining neutral and not advising our members to vote either way. If this is to occur there are a number of things we require to be adressed to protect our members and make the different roster at Domestic a genuine roster alternative which LAMEs can volunteer for. Unless the company meet each of our requests we will continue to recommend a no vote until such time that the ALAEA is convinced that the roster proposal will not adversely impact members. Our requests are presented below:
- Wage and super reductions shall be detailed prior to a ballot and discussed at ALAEA meetings with each crew;
- As the roster removes planned overtime, every hour saved to be removed from the leave burn program;
- With available days off work becoming more valuable and the proposed roster containing no RDOs, the automatic payout of DILs shall cease (this would need to be nationwide as a new policy);
- Domestic staff wanting to get away from the new roster shall be permitted to swap sections with any person of the same trade who wishes to move to the new 2AM finish roster;
- There shall be no training or licence restrictions on an agreed swap;
- The lack of 738 licence coverage in SAM to be addressed prior to a ballot (as there will be no availability to rob licence coverage from Domestic after 2AM);
- A proposal including each of the above points to be encompassed in a proper and binding written agreement.
- This equation is simple and a rare opportunity for us to act as a collective. The company want something and need us to vote yes. Members should not vote yes until the reasonable steps above are agreed and are in place