The paper 'Strategic Employment Relations Event ' is a great example of a Management Essay. In 2011, Australia’ s national carrier Qantas and three labor unions which represent Qantas employees- the Transport Workers Union (TWU) representing baggage handlers and ground staff, the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) representing pilots and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) representing engineers. These three unions were engaged in a protracted industrial dispute that started with stalled pay and conditions negotiations and culminated in the grounding of all Qantas local and international flights in October.
This was the most dramatic employment relations in Australia in the form of a labor dispute between an employer and employee unions that brought Qantas to the brink of collapse. This essay will examine the industrial labor dispute between Qantas and the three unions as an employment relations event. The essay will provide a detailed analysis of the dispute and examine to what extent each party in the dispute- Qantas and the three unions- acted in a strategic manner. The essay will also recommend how both parties could have acted in a more strategic manner during the dispute. The Industrial Dispute The industrial disputes between Qantas and the three unions- the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA)- can be traced back to pay negotiations between pilots and the management of Qantas in July 2011.
The negotiations turned acrimonious when some international pilots, frustrated with what they considered to be stalling by management, made unauthorized in-flight announcements about a continuing pay dispute which aggravated Qantas’ management (Back 2011). However, the three unions would take industrial action in the form of strikes in August 2011 when the situation was exacerbated by the announcement of Qantas’ new strategic plan. In August, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced a five-year strategic plan wherein an attempt to remain competitive and profitable, Qantas would restructure its international operations by venturing into the emerging Asian market and outsource some of its demand for labor.
The five-year plan was a strategic response to mounting financial losses and a rapidly declining market share (Cooper 2012). The plan included launching the low-cost carrier Jetstar in Japan and creating a new premium airline in South East Asia to capitalize on the growth opportunities in the region which would be funded by Qantas but would not bear the Qantas brand.
However, the issue that primarily ignited the industrial disputes was the announcement that as part of the restructuring plan, Qantas would cut 1000 jobs from its international arm (Cooper 2012: Todd 2012). This included laying off 3 percent of Qantas’ Australian-based employees such as pilots, cabin crews, management, engineering staff, and airport administration staff in the restructure. The announcement to cut 1000 jobs in Australia only intensified acrimony between Qantas and the three unions who had already been embroiled in pay disputes.
For example, AIPA’ s principal concerns were demands for a 2.5 percent pay rise and a demand that Australian Qantas flights remain the exclusive preserve of Australian Qantas pilots (Cooper 2012). AIPA President Barry Jackson had bemoaned the move to slash 1000 jobs by claiming that Qantas management was in the process of outsourcing Qantas Australian operations offshore into Asia and employing people to work with lower Asian standards.
AIPA claimed that this was a manipulation to try and circumvent their obligations under the Qantas Sale Act which stipulated that Qantas retain a majority of its facilities and workforce in Australia when it was privatized. Qantas engineers and ground staff demanded pay rises that matched the prevailing inflation rates in addition to job security which they claimed another international airline such as Virgin was offering its employees. The TWU, representing baggage handlers and catering staff, also demanded a 5 percent annual pay increase as part of a three-year agreement with Qantas (Cooper 2012).
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