AFAP President Capt Louise Pole and Executive Director Simon Lutton met with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans, Qantas Associated Airlines CEO John Gissing and Qantas Head of Industrial Relations Sonia Millen on Friday 29 March in Sydney .
From left: John Gissing, Sonia Millen, Gareth Evans, Alan Joyce and AFAP President Captain Louise Pole.
The purpose of the meeting was to ensure direct and open communication channels between the highest levels of the Qantas Group and the AFAP. We believe this is particularly important as we head into a very busy year of pilot negotiations across the Qantas Group.
Held in the Qantas Boardroom, the open and constructive meeting covered many issues including:
- The AFAP staffing and structure. This led to an explanation of the nine AFAP Pilot Councils which go to make up the ‘Federation’. We explained the autonomy each pilot council has regarding issues relating to their own workplace or council. We also highlighted areas where we share resources across the Federation, such as our safety and technical expertise, pilot welfare programs and the ‘New Wings’ and ‘Leading Edge” initiatives for pilots beginning their careers;
- The industrial landscape generally and within the Qantas Group, again noting that almost all Qantas Group pilot agreements are currently under negotiation;
- The current Qantas business strategy and the risks and opportunities faced by the various Qantas business units. There was some general discussion regarding how Qantas makes its investment decisions and the types of collaborative approaches which lead to beneficial outcomes for all parties. This also led to a discussion of the Qantas Group’s structure and policies. At this point Simon highlighted the tension which can be created by a more centralised approach to bargaining and the need, from the AFAP’s perspective, to have genuinely empowered decision-makers in the room when negotiating (and not those without authority who will need to “take things back” to others at the company);
- The AFAP’s current eligibility rule change application to cover all Australian pilots, including Qantas mainline pilots; and
- Various other issues such as the new Qantas Group Pilot Academy.
We highlighted that while the Federation is a union, we are also the leading professional association for Australian pilots and operate in a very different manner to many other unions. We are not politically aligned, and our elected officials all provide their services on an unpaid, voluntary basis. Furthermore, the AFAP’s officials and pilot council representatives are all experienced commercial pilots working within the businesses to which their decisions apply.
We were also keen to convey that, wherever possible, we want to work collaboratively to achieve beneficial outcomes that grow the business and reward our members.
Obviously, this was a very high-level meeting and it would not have been appropriate to seek to negotiate items or raise more grass-roots or operational matters. It was more about establishing a working relationship and opening communication channels. With these objectives in mind, I believe the meeting was a great success.
Captain Louise Pole