FWC approves Tigerair Australia Pilots EA 2019

FWC approves Tigerair Australia Pilots EA 2019

The Tigerair Australia Pilots Enterprise Agreement 2019 was recently approved by the Fair Work Commission and commenced operation from 4 June 2019. 

Negotiating on behalf of Tigerair pilot members for more than two years, the AFAP reached an in-principle agreement with the company in March 2019. Tigerair pilots then voted (participation rate 94%) with 78% of those who voted approving the deal. 

Negotiations had stalled in late-2018 and protected industrial action was taken, including work bans and a four-hour stoppage of work over the busy December- January holiday period. 

Further negotiations early this year brought about a resolution satisfactory to both parties that will result in an initial 16% pay increase for Tigerair pilots achieved in part through rolling five hours of overtime into the base rate and rolling in the retention payment. Three further annual 2.5% increases start from December 2019. 

Negotiations over the new enterprise agreement had been running for more than two years, with  pilots not receiving any increase in pay during that period. Consequently, pilots were also back-paid for the period to December 2017. 

The AFAP also negotiated an increase in pilots flight hour rate (overtime rate) by 36% over the three-year life of the enterprise agreement. 

Additionally the agreement provides for certain lifestyle improvements for pilots by retaining access to fixed rosters (five days on / three days off) and introducing protections around duty changes that allow pilots to better plan their lives. 

The improvements were offset by the AFAP agreeing to allow the company greater efficiency in rostering pilots when under training. 

“The Australian Federation of Air Pilots is pleased with the outcome for its Tigerair pilot members and is confident that a fair deal has been reached for both Tigerair pilots and the company,” said AFAP Senior Industrial/Legal Officer Patrick Larkins. 

This resolution frees up management to focus on getting Tigerair’s fleet transition to the B737 from the A320 organised properly and to recruit pilots using the competitive salaries and conditions now on offer.

The AFAP is pleased to have achieved its goal of ensuring Tigerair pilots are remunerated to properly reflect the market value of their labour when compared with their counterparts at other airlines. 

Representing 150 of the 190 Tigerair pilots, the AFAP team was made up by pilot representatives Captains James Howard, Warren Hutchinson, Mike MacNamara and Matt Sheppard working with AFAP industrial staff Patrick Larkins, James Lauchland and Simon Miller.                                               

Tigerair EA – Reaching a Resolution

Following the “no” vote by Tigerair pilots to the first Company offer in September 2018, the AFAP surveyed and presented a number of claims to Tigerair’s negotiating team to address the pilots’ concerns. 

Despite repeated attempts by the AFAP to get negotiations moving and find a solution, the Company refused to meaningfully engage in the process and then referred the matter to a conciliation before Deputy President Colman of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) under s.240 of the Fair Work Act. This enabled DP Colman to provide assistance to the parties to help reach an agreement but he could not make a binding order on the parties without agreement from both sides to allow for arbitration. 

The Company refused to meet with the AFAP outside of the FWC conciliation and had not presented any offers in the lead up to Christmas. 

After the FWC indicated it was only able to meet with  the parties once before a delay of several weeks into the new year, the AFAP had no choice but to notify of our intent to take protected industrial action (PIA) in the form of several work bans. These were a ban on pilots accepting an aircraft for a flight that has a deferred defect as described in the Minimum Equipment List (MEL); a ban on attending for a duty off standby earlier than the minimum 90 minutes; and a ban on accepting track shortening or exceeding turbulence penetration speed. 

A few days before Christmas, the Company challenged the legality of the AFAP’s notice of PIA and was successful in having the bans cancelled on a technicality. The AFAP had selected these work bans as the least disruptive form of  action during the busy holiday period, as while they would cause some disruption to flights, they would not necessitate cancellations if Tigerair were organised. 

As a result of the low level bans being cancelled, the AFAP was forced to escalate the type of action and notified of a ban on the performance of any  work  on a rostered day off, annual leave day, or day free of duty from 4-9 January 2019. This action received unified support from AFAP Tigerair members and was an effective first step in having the Company start negotiating again. 

Throughout this period the AFAP continued negotiating in good faith while seeking a resolution to avoid continued PIA. Leading up to the second conciliation we notified of an extension of our ban on working on days off, during the period 11-17 January and again from 18-31 January. We allowed for a break from the ban on 10 January which was the day of the second conciliation conference. The intent of this was to increase pressure on the Company to present a reasonable offer and resolve the impasse during the conciliation conference. 

While progress was made at the second conciliation it was not enough to address our key concerns and be able to recommend a document to our members. We notified of further PIA on top of the ban on working on days off, being a ban on the performance of any duties not on a pilot’s originally published roster. Again, the intent of this ban was to cause added disruption to the Company but not a full-scale grounding of flights. 

The Company wrote opposing this further ban and filed to challenge in the FWC on the same date as a proposed negotiation meeting. The AFAP elected to withdraw this ban (despite legal advice that it was compliant) given it would have caused a bargaining meeting to have been cancelled and we focused on negotiating to reach a deal. 

The Company continued to hold the line and the AFAP was forced to escalate PIA. We notified of a work stoppage 0500 to 0900 (AEDT) on Friday 25 January. Despite VIPA and their members (approx. 20-30 pilots) electing not to engage in the stoppage, it went ahead fully supported by AFAP members (causing a number of flights to be delayed but not cancelled). 

To increase pressure on the Pilot Group prior to the stoppage the Company, without consultation with the AFAP and contrary to its agreement not to publish information while bargaining was ongoing, published a proposal to move all Pilots onto a single fixed roster type, with set days off proposed by the Company to suit its operation. At  that time Tigerair pilots were either on a fixed roster of 5 days on, 3 days off or a “flexi roster” which did not have fixed days off but a guaranteed number of weekends off. 

The Company began “meeting” with Pilots, in some cases individually, in what was a blatant attempt to circumvent the AFAP and seek to garner support for its fixed roster proposal. 

The Company attempts to split the members from the AFAP failed with unanimous support for the stoppage from those Pilots rostered on that day. Following this stoppage, and the signal from our members that we were willing to continue to escalate PIA, the AFAP notified of a series of further 4-hour work stoppages on  8 February (0500-0900 and 0901-1300) and 11 February (0500-0900). This time VIPA agreed to support these stoppages and notified of the same times. 

The AFAP’s notification allowed a full week for bargaining without any ongoing PIA. Following notification, the AFAP wrote to management outlining the key issues to be addressed to achieve a deal. 

After a successful couple of days of discussions, and the resolution of a few remaining issues, we withdrew all notified action and finalised the drafting of the deal. 

We credit the unified approach of AFAP Tigerair pilot members to support their elected representatives as the basis for which we ultimately got an agreement we could endorse. 

The use of PIA was only escalated in stages after we had exhausted direct negotiations with Tigerair. While it is tempting to see this as an example of pilots taking PIA to force a better deal, this is not a conclusion the AFAP supports. PIA is an available tool but should only be deployed in a carefully considered manner and when all other options for negotiations have been exhausted.                                                                                                                                                                  

Summary of the New Tigerair EA 

Improvements

  • The remuneration package includes new base salary incorporating:
  • 5 guaranteed hours of flight pay per month due to move from 55 to 60 hour over time threshold and
  • 2 x 2.5% increases accounting for the 2017 and 2018 increases: 
 Wages Table Previous Salary Effective from first full pay period after commencement date  Year 1 (effective from 1 December 2019) Year 2 (effective from 1 December 2020 Year 3 (effective from 1 December 2021
 Captain $184,148  $215,000 $220,375
$225,884
$231,531
 FO Lev 1 (0-2yrs)  $101,281  $118,250  $121,206  $124,236  $127,342
 FO Lev 2 (2-5yrs)  $117,854  $137,600  $141,040  $144,566  $148,180
 FO Lev 3 (5 yrs +)  $123,379  $144,050  $147,651  $151,343  $155,126

  • Annual increases to base pay and allowances of 2.5%, dating back to 1 December 2017 and continuing to December 2021.
  • Backpay/sign-on bonus to include 2 x 2.5% increases.
  • Retention bonus rolled into base pay, making it payable at all times regardless of whether a pilot leaves before anniversary date. Pilots back paid retention up to commencement of new salary.
  • Pilots not currently receiving retention bonus will have this added into their base pay.
  • A 36% increase in the flight pay rate (now for flying over 60 hours a month) over the life of the agreement from $170 per hour (for CPTs) and $85 (for FOs) on commencement to $205 and $102.50.

Monetary Conditions

  • Paxing allowance of $40 per hour for captains and $20 per hour for FOs. Paid regardless of whether a pilot is in overtime.
  • 20% increase in check and training pay.
  • Domestic meal and incidental allowances paid at theATO rates for layovers. Payable each time a pilot touches a meal window, for the entire period from sign- on to sign-off at home base.
  • Increase to loss of licence to award rate to $2005 from 1 July (up from $1708.20) and increasing each July in line with the Award.
  • Uniform credit of $600 per annum, cumulative if not used.

Lifestyle Improvements 

  • Enforceable roster balancing (within +-7.5 hours of targeted flight hours each resource group.
  • Annual leave credits of 2.7 hours per day of leave, which count towards the overtime trigger and will be paid at the hourly rate if over the trigger.
  • No changes to rosters after roster publish, other than displacement in defined circumstances (currently very few limitations on this).
  • Where a pilot is displaced from a rostered duty, the new duty must fall within a buffer of 2 hours either side of original duty (currently very few limitations on this), unless agreed otherwise, the option is yours.
  • Introduction of priority days off: 4per year on embedded fixed, 2 per year on standard fixed.
  • Access to FWC for disputes over the Rostering and Crewing Manual.
  • Greatly improved paid parental leave entitlements – 10 weeks for primary care giver, 2 weeks for non-primary.
  • A cap on the number of standbys per roster, based on the number of flight hours rostered. Maximum allowable amount is 8.
  • Reduction in the length of standby periods from 12 hours to 8 (starting from 2020).
  • Increase in the callout period off standby from 90 minutes to 2 hours. 

Other Conditions

  • Clear rules governing fleet transition, including protection of A320 pilots’ base and rank on the new fleet.
  • Duty travel on first available Virgin Group aircraft.
  • An improved TPCC clause that expressly includes unions and therefore removes any ability to manipulate the process.
  • Inclusion of an appendix to cover international flying, if introduced.
  • A requirement that Tigerair reimburse pilots for valid monetary claims within 21 days.
  • Robust procedures around disciplinary and safety investigations.
  • Much stronger clause around pilot in demnity.
  • Removal of 12 month base freeze for voluntary base transfers. 

Rostering Changes 

The Company did achieve some changes to improve rostering efficiency:

  • Movement of all pilots to a fixed roster either:
  • Standard (5 days on/ 3 days off); or
  • Embedded (5 days on and three 3 days off embedded with a pattern of 5 day on and 2 days off and 5 days on and 4 days off as a fixed pattern repeating every 16 weeks.)
  • Reduction in days off following periods of non-recurrent training, with the number of days off determined by the amount of time spent away.
  • 12 month training salary for direct entry First Officers employed after commencement of agreement.  
Tigerair Australia Pilots' Enterprise Agreement 2019

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