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Business & Finance

Qantas pilots move towards first strike in 45 years

SYDNEY : International pilots with Australia's Qantas were Wednesday preparing to vote on whether to strike in what woul
Published May 25, 2011

qantasSYDNEY: International pilots with Australia's Qantas were Wednesday preparing to vote on whether to strike in what would be the first industrial action by the carrier's long-haul crew in 45 years.

The pilots' union has asked the government's national workplace relations tribunal, Fair Work Australia, for permission to hold a ballot of its members on taking strike action.

The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) said it wants job security for its members, and has warned Qantas against sending work offshore as the airline attempts to revive its non-performing international business.

"While our international competition flourishes, Qantas has been left to wither on the vine, while management eyes low-cost expansion in Asia," association president Barry Jackson told reporters in Sydney.

"Qantas is now left with an ageing fleet, a limited route network, and costs which have been cut to the point where it is affecting the product delivered."

Jackson said any industrial action, which would be the first by Qantas' long-haul international pilots since 1966, could include work stoppages of up to two days.

Pilots have been negotiating new wages and conditions for more than eight months and say the issue of job security is core to their claims.

National carrier Qantas has admitted its international business is loss making and in need of a shake-up, but has refused to confirm it will build a new service out of Asia.

The airline is battling rising fuel costs, greater regional competition and a soaring Australian currency that is hurting holiday travel to long-haul destinations like Australia.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2011

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