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Qantas Dispute Stopped

October 31, 2011 - A tribunal of judges appointed by Fair Work Australia has determined that the industrial dispute called by three unions that triggered the airline's lockout must end. Almost 70,000 passengers worldwide were affected as Qantas planes were grounded around the world.

Fair Work Australia stated:

"We have decided to terminate protected industrial action in relation to each of the proposed enterprise agreements immediately.

"We have decided that in the particular circumstances of this case, which on the evidence include the particular vulnerability of the tourism industry to uncertainty, suspension will not provide sufficient protection against the risk of significant damage,"

"We should do what we can to avoid significant damage to the tourism industry."

Qantas and the unions must now resume negotiations over a period of 21 days that can be extended by a further 21 days.

Australia's Federal Government applied to Fair Work Australia to terminate or suspend the industrial disputes between Qantas and the three unions: the Australian and International Pilots Union (AIPA), Australian Licensed Engineers Union (ALAEA), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

According to Minister Bill Shorten:

"Fair Work Australia has upheld the application of the Gillard Government. We are conscious of the tens of thousands of travellers stranded in Australia and across the world. We were aware that the economy was at risk of great danger. We were aware that the industrial action between the unions and Qantas needed to come to a halt."

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said:

"We welcome Alan Joyce’s announcement that all flights will resume within 24 hours, but it should never have come to this.

"For two days, Qantas has held the Australian public to ransom. There were plenty of choices available to Qantas, but grounding its airlines was not necessary.

"Tens of thousands of people have had their travel plans disrupted, and the economic loss caused by Mr Joyce’s singlehanded action has been immense. The damage to Qantas’ and Australia’s reputation is immeasurable.

"In its decision, Fair Work Australia attributed the entire reason for its intervention to the potential damage to the economy and industry caused by the actions of Qantas management.

"The intervention to prevent Qantas from locking out its workers and forcing it back to the negotiating table is welcome.

"For 15 months, unions representing engineers, pilots, baggage handlers and ramp crews, and catering staff have been standing up for this great company to ensure it remains a proud Australian icon.

"This is about job security, and keeping good jobs in Australia - that’s what unions are fighting for.

"Unions genuinely want to reach agreement, and we expect Qantas management to take a reasonable approach to negotiations, as opposed to its behaviour until now.”

Full Bench Decision

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