Yesterday we concluded a series of leave burn meetings for members in Sydney. This notice is a summary of some of the matters discussed.
Leave burn was an agreed step in our Enterprise Agreement that must be used by the airline as an alternative to compulsory redundancy. It’s quite simple, the LAMEs who would be made redundant return to work and others take leave equivalent to the labour supplied by those who returned. The work that the redundancies was calculated on was set out in consultation packs during 2014, since that time a substantial amount of new work has been added.
The ALAEA has advice that this new work amounts to more than can be supplied by the 46.5 extra staff Qantas say they have. This being the case, there are no grounds for leave burn and if Qantas attempt to force it in, they are breaching the terms of the EA. Qantas could be subject to massive fines from a court if they go ahead with their plans and breach the EA, fines which could be up to $27M for the airline and $5M personally for managers who are involved. The ALAEA has made it clear that we will seek full enforcement of the law, including all penalties and compensation, if they demand LAMEs burn leave above the 5 weeks leave a LAME would normally take in a 12-month period.
Individual LAMEs who have ignored our previous advice and submitted more than 5 weeks leave may have given permission for Qantas to blow all their leave without recourse. For those who have followed our advice, the following scenarios are likely/possible.
The first is for Qantas to reconsider and determine that it would not be in the best interests of the airline to breach the EA.
The second is that they may assign leave above 5 weeks to LAMEs and, in doing so, breach the EA for each person they order to take this time off.
If the ALAEA find out that Qantas are moving to the second scenario, members will be given a pre-prepared letter to hand to managers outlining the consequences and fines that could apply to that manager and the airline. The letter will also state that the member is willing and available to work as normal during any directed periods of leave over the standard 5 weeks if requested to do so. That way an avenue is open for a judge to compensate LAMEs by, for example, returning the additional leave used.
Many questions were asked over the five meetings and some of the answers in brief follow-
- If a member is acting as an Ops manager and forces a person to undertake leave burn, we will not exempt them from prosecution. We advise members who act up not to participate in a known breach of the EA such as this and tell more senior management to do their own dirty work.
- LSL calculations forwarded by the company are irrelevant. Our position is that any forced leave of any type constitutes an EA breach so how these calculations are worked out is inconsequential.
- The ALAEA have made it known to the Qantas CEO that this situation is unfair and leaving the airline less safe than before due to massive understaffing. This is leaving sections incapable of completing work without bending rules, a situation we should all be reporting regularly on form 500 and 2000s.
- DMMs and others who can decide whether to call LAMEs in on overtime should do so when required rather than expect everyone to be heroes and 2 LAMEs to attempt to complete the work of 5.
- If leave burn ends, Qantas are not required to seek expressions of interest for redundancy every 6 months. The ALAEA is not in the business of securing golden handshakes, our priority is to protect jobs.
- Members are doing themselves a disservice by making a broken system work. Strictly comply with all Qantas procedures, as the airline expects you to, and do not take short cuts to get an aircraft out on time.
- If you have any leave forms that are rejected, keep them as they may be used in an upcoming court hearing.
- Expect Ops managers to keep hounding you to fill in leave forms, they have nothing better to do. They want as many LAMEs as possible to give them consent to exhaust leave as this will reduce the fines they may be subject to. Just say no to them as the matter has been referred to the ALAEA.
- If you genuinely want to take a long period off for a holiday, or other reason, then apply for it. Every year some LAMEs like to take an extended break and this year is no different.
Some related matters were also discussed at the meetings and the one of most interest related to the prospect of Qantas Engineering securing upcoming work on the 787. Federal President Paul Cousins and I met with the CEO Alan Joyce and the head of the Domestic airline Andrew David to discuss the new aircraft last week. We explained that it was a requirement of the EA for those covered by the agreement to retain our existing job functions. That being said we would not accept an argument that the 787 was a new aircraft and that we would have to “win” this work. This may be a new aircraft but it is simply a Qantas aircraft flying Qantas routes and maintenance of Qantas aircraft is our job function. This meeting was generally held in good spirits concluding with an offer from the CEO for the ALAEA to participate in the planning of the arrival for the 787. This was not an assurance that we would be undertaking the work but it certainly seemed like a hell of a good start.
Too many other matters were raised at the feedback meetings to list them all in a notice. We intend to release a survey shortly for members seeking your opinions on various issues we are currently facing.