Regional Express Airlines (Rex) pilots have voted to take industrial action over a pay dispute that could affect passengers from Carnarvon to Coffs Harbour and Coober Pedy.
- The vote to take industrial action followed a breakdown in negotiations between the airline and the union
- The Fair Work Commission has approved some eight different industrial actions
- It remained unclear how this would affect regional passengers but the airline said they could expect minor changes
In the past week, 230 of Rex’s SAAB-340 pilots took part in an online ballot to determine the extent of action against their employer.
That ballot concluded on Wednesday.
More than 90 per cent of the regional carrier’s union member pilots who participated in the vote decided to take action.
In response to the decision, Rex said it had “put in place mitigating measures to ensure our services operate normally.”
It followed a breakdown in pay negotiations, during which the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) claimed it had received a deal that was “worse than previous offers”.
That was refuted by a spokesperson for the regional carrier, who labelled the decision to knock back the pay deal as “beyond belief”.
The Rex spokesperson said it offered the pilots a 5 per cent pay increase now, and an additional 8 per cent when the company became profitable.
Carrier and union ‘aligned’
AFAP confirmed they will start taking protected industrial action with three initial work actions, effective from Tuesday June 28.
This includes not wearing some, or all, of the uniform.
“In addition to action concerning the wearing of uniforms, pilots will adopt a ban on loading extra fuel prior to flights, where the primary purpose for loading the extra fuel is to negate the need to refuel at the destination airport,” an AFAP spokesperson said.
More than 95 per cent of pilots voted to ban working without at least 10 hours break between shifts while away from their home base, and 12 hours when at their home airport.
The Rex spokesperson said it was working towards the same goal as AFAP.
“The union and the company are aligned in our desire to not have the travelling public impacted,” the spokesperson said.
“Especially not during the school holidays when airports are expecting massive delays.”
Expect ‘minor changes’
The Fair Work Commission has approved eight different industrial actions, all of which were approved by a least a 90 per cent majority of union members.
For regional customers worried they might be impacted, law dictates that the AFAP and pilots must provide Rex Regional Express with five days notice of any possible strike action.
The Rex spokesperson said passengers could expect “minor changes to our service delivery”, including the potential for four-hour work strikes.
There is no date set for when pilots could walk off the job.
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