The airline has new owners, a Boston-based investment company. It seems that they want to introduce certain working conditions into Australian airspace, following the model of the United States. There are allegations that pilots are only paid for the hours they fly. In the cabin, cabin crew would work directly up to 3 p.m. Crikey.com aviation journalist Ben Sandilands reports that Virgin Airlines and VIPA, virgin Australia`s largest pilots` union, have negotiated a new enterprise agreement that has raised wages by up to 28%. Virgin pilots should expect lower wages and conditions. Credit:AP But hundreds of pilots have since been laid off, with an estimate that the total number of pilots at Virgin has fallen to 1000. The transport workers` hard-line workers` union will extend its coverage to Virgin pilots as the company`s new owners try to reduce payment and conditions for pilots. If Virgin Australia sought clean air after the sale and reissue, disgruntled employees could pay the price. Virgin Australia sells to negotiate new enterprise agreements.
But workers and their unions are not satisfied with what the airline is offering. On Wednesday, the unions made their displeasure public. Qantas makes no secret of the fact that if Virgin cuts the salaries and conditions of its pilots, it will go to the unions to compensate for its competitive disadvantage. Virgin has already given virgin`s pilots` union the big brushstrokes of the pay and conditioning issues it wants to address, but few quantitative details, as negotiations for a new enterprise deal are still in the works. The agreement provides for extensive consultation between pilots and businesses, as well as the establishment of a credit system that measures overtime and pre-formatted work. VIPA acknowledges that the result would likely happen without the management of Virgin`s new CEO, John Borghetti. Mr Borghetti is committed to increasing staff in Australia as much as possible. Negotiations on the agreement lasted two years and, according to VIPA, represent a marked improvement over the existing common law treaties. The agreement has yet to be ratified by pilot staff.
A vote will take place over the next two weeks. There are many moving parts as drivers are paid. But Virgin`s management proposal calls for a reduction in hourly wages, an increase in hours and a reduction in the number of days off. The objective of the exercise is to significantly increase pilot productivity. According to a report published in Thursday`s issue of The Australian, the proposed new agreements could involve a radical restructuring of the newly launched airline`s working conditions. In the end, pilots have little or no leverage to negotiate payment and terms. Qantas signed a collective agreement for long-haul pilots in the months leading up to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and its short-haul contract still has a few years to come. Virgin-Australia pilots working on international routes would earn much less after redeployment to the surviving domestic network.