Today the ALAEA held it’s first EA 11 negotiation meting with the company and presented a comprehensive claim list to them. In return, Qantas rolled out some presentations to explain the financial difficulties the airline are heading for; the usual doom and gloom story that we see every time we negotiate with them.
Our claim list is short and focused on the future. We seek to secure jobs long term and end the cycle of bribes, threats and intimidation that has seen the continual erosion of our conditions and undermining of work such as the closure of heavy maintenance facilities, the rise of wheetie packet A licences and the farcical 787 “consultation”.
It is clear that a concerted effort of LAMEs standing together to fight against the dumbing down of our trade is needed before safety standards are further lowered by those intent on achieving nothing but bigger bonuses for themselves at our expense. The coming period will be a challenging one and it is not expected to be a smooth path to an agreed outcome.
We reiterated our eagerness to meet frequently with a view to having an offer on the table before Christmas. However the same urgency was not reciprocated.
The six items on our claims list are below and a brief explanation of each is in the following two pages.
- Wage increases of 7.5%, 3% and 3%.
- No use of Deputy or similar invasive timekeeping systems.
- Job security with minimum LAME numbers to be set in each port.
- Simpler wage structure with 5 levels and no quotas.
- Post 1996 LAMEs to receive increases to ensure they receive the same shift penalties as pre 1996 LAMEs.
- LAME staff travel onload/upgrade priorities included in Agreement at 2008 relativity status.
- Wage increases of 7.5%, 3% and 3%
Increases to apply to all wages, conditions and allowances from first pay periods after 1 Jan 2019, 1 Jan 2020 and 1 Jan 2021 with Agreement to expire end of 2021.
Claim for 7.5% upfront is to compensate for 4.5% taken from LAMEs over the 18 month wage freeze which was “sold” to all staff under the false pretence of savings required to assist Qantas through financial difficulties. The money saved through Qantas staff taking a wage freeze has all been paid to Executives and Senior Managers in bonuses and wage increases.
Qantas are now making yearly record profits.
- No use of Deputy or similar invasive timekeeping systems
Seeking new clause to protect status quo on existing timekeeping methods. Deputy and some other electronic staff tracking methods are invasive and share employees’ personal and confidential data with third party companies who often use cloud-based services and overseas bases.
The terms and conditions used by these companies that apply to all users give permission for them to bypass Privacy Laws and track LAMEs using geolocation services. LAMEs are professionals in their field, certify for the lives of thousands of people on a daily basis and do not agree to an electronic baby-sitting service which monitors their activities at work and in their personal time.
- Job security with minimum LAME numbers to be set in each port
The current Job Security clause is problematic. Irrespective of the current clause Qantas simply go through the motions and outsource existing LAME job functions. A particularly relevant recent example is A check work on 787 aircraft being completed in LAX. Qantas “negotiated” for many months with the ALAEA regarding this work despite having already committed to sending it offshore. Qantas then threatened to outsource all 787 work unless we agreed to bypass the current clause by dropping existing R & D activities. The ALAEA does not want to be placed in the position again.
In this claim we seek that the clause be replaced with minimum, permanent, Qantas-employed full and part time LAME staff numbers set for each port (including all Supervisory positions). The claim is for minimum numbers to be set at levels last declared by Qantas during 2014 redundancy consultation. Qantas can then allocate work as they see fit and LAMEs will at least have job security for the life of the Agreement.
- Simpler wage structure with 5 levels and no quotas
The current wage and classification system is overly complex and difficult to administer and enforce. Basically, in its current form, it is broken. Qantas do not know who is waitlisted at particular levels and mistakes about whether a LAME can progress to the next level, or when, are common. The base wages at the lower levels are also too low and the industry standard is generally that of a fixed system with an aggregate wage. Because training on other aircraft types generally results in a LAME progressing to higher levels this creates a disincentive for training and results in a situation where the company is reluctant to train LAMEs. In turn this limits the new work the company can attract.
The claim is for a new, simplified five level system (wage levels to be determined) where LAMEs simply progress to the next level after each five years completed as a Qantas LAME (not through training). Wages to be aggregated or paid as salary with overtime paid on aggregated rates. This will allow Qantas to expand training without increasing wage costs; which will assist in attracting additional work.
- Post 1996 LAMEs to receive increases to ensure they receive the same shift penalties as pre 1996 LAMEs
In line with our claims for a simpler wage structure the references to this discriminatory clause, which provides for a higher penalty rate for LAMEs employed prior to 1996, are to be removed and all LAMEs to be paid penalties at the pre 1996 rates. The ALAEA considers it unfair to have a different penalty, which is a payment for the same purpose or inconvenience, applied to two employees working the same work hours.
- LAME staff travel onload/upgrade priorities included in Agreement at 2008 relativity status
Staff travel was previously a benefit which helped attract employees to Qantas. Most LAMEs report to us that the current system is virtually unusable. Qantas has previously resisted all attempts to include this condition in Enterprise Agreements. Due in part to the fact that the rights have not been enforceable Qantas has progressively “watered down” the benefits for LAMEs to a point where long-serving LAMEs often have a lesser entitlement, and miss flights, in favour of new employees such as IT specialists. We understand that Qantas pay low wages to IT and other newer employees but “top up” their packages with attractive staff travel benefits. This practice has disadvantaged Qantas LAMEs.
This claim seeks the inclusion of staff travel benefits within the Enterprise Agreement so Qantas cannot continually change LAME priorities via company policy. We are seeking that LAME priorities be restored to the same levels they were 10 years ago and an assurance that new employees will not be assigned higher categories of staff travel than Qantas LAMEs (unless their position was appropriately allocated to higher levels in 2008).