Qantas cancels 31 flights due to engineers strike

14:57, May 12, 2011      

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Australia airline Qantas said Thursday it is canceling 31 of Friday's flights, and will delay a further 46 because of industrial action by licensed engineers.

Friday's strike came as the failing to reach an agreement over pay and job security between Qantas and its engineers.

About 2,500 passengers is expected to be affected, when 1,600 employees walk off the job for an hour between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. ( AEST) on Friday.

Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers federal secretary, Steve Purvinas emphasized the strike is not designed to hurt Qantas customers, but said the engineers have reached a point where they have to take action.

"Tomorrow, there's no reason why we wouldn't be taking our protected industrial action," he told ABC News on Thursday.

"We've been in discussion with Qantas for nine months without any success and there comes a time when you've just got to take a stand and that starts tomorrow."

Qantas pilots have also threatened industrial action next week, saying management is not taking job security negotiations seriously.

However, Qantas spokeswoman Olivia Wirth accused maintenance engineers of not negotiating in good faith over job security and conditions, and said the company is disappointed at the disruptions.

"It's pretty clear that the engineers union, the union officials, are not prepared to negotiate in good faith. They walked away from conciliatory talks to a media conference," she said, adding that the airline company has made every effort to negotiate.

"They had discussions with the engineers yesterday but they're continuing to take industrial action."

Qantas said it will contact all affected customers about the cancellations and delays.

Meanwhile, Qantas also remains locked in negotiations with 1, 700 pilots over a new employment agreement. The pilots want to secure their positions as the company becomes more reliant on its low-cost offshoot, Jetstar.

The pilots have also threatened industrial action next week, saying management is not taking job security negotiations seriously.

Source: Xinhua
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