22 Dec 2009

Pilot unions see JetConnect as labour rort

1:45 pm on 22 December 2009

A campaign opposing the practice of airlines setting up offshore companies to take advantage of cheaper labour rates is gearing up on both sides of the Tasman.

The Australian pilots' union is taking Qantas to court over the pay and conditions of pilots working for its New Zealand-based subsidiary, Jetconnect.

It claims the Jetconnect pilots earn up to 40% less than their Qantas counterparts.

The New Zealand Airline Pilots' Association says this practice is becoming increasingly common, and unions here and in Australia are mounting a campaign to oppose it.

It's not our responsibility - Qantas

Qantas says the union has no case, as JetConnect is a New Zealand company with New Zealand staff, and the pilots are therefore subject to New Zealand workplace laws.

Qantas spokesperson David Epstein says the claims are not new, and the Australian union is seeking ultimately to displace New Zealand pilots.

Union president Barry Jackson says, however, that Jetconnect planes have Qantas colours, their staff wear Qantas uniforms and the planes used to be flown by Qantas pilots, who are unhappy about the change.

He says Qantas is basically sending jobs offshore unfairly, and that 1000 Australian-based pilots are on leave while pilots making less are flying the route.

The union is seeking a ruling from the employment tribunal, Fair Work Australia, and is also considering legal action.