Created: Thursday, 25 February 2016 09:41
Last Updated: Thursday, 25 February 2016 10:07
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.
Created: Friday, 18 December 2015 18:15
Last Updated: Monday, 21 December 2015 08:40
As 2015 closes we celebrate the holiday season with our family and friends and take time to appreciate what we hold dear. We thank those that have helped us make it through and also use the time to “recharge our batteries” for the coming year. Our work often doesn’t allow for a “normal” life; many of us work rosters with shifts that run through the night or take place on that public holiday that everyone else seems to have off. So whilst 95% of the country will be celebrating Christmas and the New Year a select group will be holding the fort; making sure aircraft are safe for all those who fly. This is what we do, we are proud of it and without us the world of aviation would be a far different, and much more dangerous, place.
The recent release of the official report on the Air Asia crash (flight QZ8501) once again brought the harsh realities of air travel and what can go wrong directly into lounge rooms around the world. Warning signs abounded in this disaster which was, I’m sad to say, avoidable. The pilot and co-pilot have borne the brunt of the responsibility for their “lack” of “out of the ordinary” flying skills. Let’s of course remember they aren’t here to defend themselves. The elephant in the room, in my opinion, was the maintenance defect that had shown up over twenty times over the previous twelve months yet had been consistently ignored and not properly investigated. Reading the official report is an eye opener and obviously there are serious issues that need to be attended to immediately at Air Asia. What struck me, and troubles me, is the similarities I see with occurrences that are now creeping into our own airlines, often created by management with little or no engineering experience. What isn’t clear from the report though is whether Air Asia had appropriately trained and licenced personnel looking at this defect in the various ports the aircraft visited over that twelve month period? Were parts available to carry out troubleshooting and rectification once the defect was diagnosed? Was sufficient time and resources allocated to the job? Was it a tragic example over schedule over safety and time-pressure to get the aircraft out on time? Or was it that properly-skilled personnel weren’t available to diagnose and troubleshoot the defect? The link to the Air Asia report can be found here
LAMEs are the last line of defence in air safety and we are responsible to the people of Australia to make sure every aircraft is safe. Do not be deterred. Do not be distracted. Do it right, the first time. Have a clear conscience that you have done everything in your power to ensure the safety of the aircraft you sign.It seems that manning levels in all airlines in all ports is a big issue currently. We are getting consistent reports from ALAEA Reps around the country that many operators are consciously dropping below their own specified minimum staffing numbers (in some cases an agreed staffing level in an Enterprise Agreement) to see how far the “machine” can run before it breaks. This, of course, exacerbates time pressure and schedule over safety. When you are pushed to rush from one job to another vital points of a job can be missed. Do not let it be you. Slow down; one job at a time, make sure every step is followed and every precaution taken. We do not want an Air Asia catastrophe on our watch. You are not in the wrong if you delay an aircraft because you want to be sure it is 100% safe. That is your job and responsibility.
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