Qantas claims industrial victory

Qantas can use as many contract staff as it likes after the industrial umpire ruled in the airline's favour in the long-running dispute with the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

Fair Work Australia's (FWA) arbitrated ruling followed last October's dispute that resulted in Qantas locking out its employees and grounding its entire fleet.

As a result of the action thousands of Qantas passengers were stranded across the globe.

Wednesday's FWA ruling came as the airline confirmed a total of 2,800 jobs would go as part of its previously-announced restructuring plans.

The industrial umpire rejected the union's call for a 20 per cent cap in the use of contract ground staff and for non-permanent workers to be paid the same as full-time employees.

"In our view this claim fails on merit," a three-member FWA panel said.

"To interfere with management's decisions on such a matter would require clear and strong evidence of unfairness.

"No such case has been established with respect to current employees or otherwise."

FWA also ruled that TWU employees would receive Qantas' recommended three per cent pay rise, but backdated to July 1, 2011.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said the union would continue its fight against the aviation industry and would be launching a multi-million dollar campaign.

"We're announcing today as part of the fight to have safe and secure skies that we'll be launching a multi-million dollar campaign to have industry-wide outcomes and legislative change," he said.

"Anyone flying in our airspace no matter where they're from, domestically and internationally, should be getting paid our pay rates and conditions and security."

Meanwhile, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told a business lunch in Sydney on Wednesday that the transformation of the airline would result in the loss of 2,800 full-time jobs and save the company about $300 million in annual savings.

Mr Joyce also said the airline was taking its time to form new alliances with overseas carriers after speculation has been rife in recent months that Qantas was close to sealing a partnership with Dubai-based Emirates as part of its five-year strategy to improve its international operations.

He said while alliances were important to the airline because it increased its reach without incurring extra costs, it needed to ensure the conditions were right.

"But we only enter partnerships when we have the right arrangement for the long term," he said.

"In the current economic environment, taking our time with this part of our agenda will clearly not undermine our broader transformation plan."

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