The West Australian mining and resources sector is preparing for potential disruptions with a planned pilots’ strike this week which may affect thousands of FIFO workers.
Pilots employed by Network Aviation, a Qantas subsidiary regional carrier are due to stage a 24-hour stoppage on Wednesday 4 October over a long-standing pay dispute.
The pilots provide flight services under the regional QantasLink branding.
The stoppage has resulted in the cancellation of approximately half the number of planned scheduled flights, with BHP and the Fortescue Metals Group expecting an impact on their Pilbara operations in the state’s north-west.
Over 60,000 workers are employed in the mining and resources sector in the state’s north-west and rely on FIFO operations.
In conjunction with airlines Network Aviation and Qantas, the resource sector companies have been forced to transfer some passengers to competing airlines to seek other transport solutions.
Network Aviation chief operating officer Trevor Worgan said: “Our proposed agreement offers our pilots significant pay rises and more guaranteed days off each roster period and we’re disappointed the AFAP has chosen to move towards industrial action while we have been trying to negotiate.”
Network Aviation operates passenger services on aircraft with the QantasLink tail (but also charter aircraft under the Network Aviation brand) in WA.
The carrier supports fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in the resources sector; operating over 500 weekly flights to regional centres and minesites.
In addition to FIFO flight services, Network also operates ad hoc charter and emergency freight services.
Wednesday strike action
Pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking protected industrial action (PIA) which is set for this Wednesday.
More than 99.5 per cent of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) pilot members at Network Aviation voted to approve the taking of a range of legally protected industrial action that includes a number of work bans and work stoppages.
Network Aviation pilots make up more than 85 per cent of the pilot group. Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) Senior Industrial Officer Chris Aikens issued the following statement today:
“The Network Aviation pilots’ 24-hour stoppage on Wednesday is lawful protected industrial action approved by the Fair Work Commission.”
“The Australian Federation of Air Pilots is disappointed we have had to take this action and remains committed to reaching an agreement for our members who fly for Qantas domestically in Western Australia.”
Negotiations on an expired Enterprise Agreement have been at a standstill since March, leaving most Network Aviation pilots with wages and conditions that are well below industry standards, he went on to state.
Many of these pilots even earn less that what is included in the Air Pilots Award which is the bare legal minimum.
“Network Aviation’s pilots are simply asking for something that is affordable and sustainable for the company and its workforce,” concluded Aikens.
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