IntroductionThe Australian Airline Dispute of 1989 has been labelled as one of the most costly industrial disputes to the government and the Australian economy in general. It commenced on the 15th day of August 1989 and ended in March 1990. At that time, some of the most significant stakeholders in Industrial relations and organised labour were forced to intervene in the situation in order to put an end to this Dispute; examples of these groups included the Australian Council of trade unions, Australian Industrial relations, Australian Federation of Air Pilots, the Hawke Labour government and Airline companies as well.
Estimates indicate that tourist businesses dependent on the Australian Airline industry lost approximately five hundred and sixty million dollars worth of revenue and much more was lost in the broader economy. Given such significant implications, then there’s a need to analyse the actions of these stakeholders and find out whether the parties were justified or whether their actions were effective. History or background to the 1989 Airline DisputeThe major reason cited for the Dispute was wage labour increments. However, analysts assert that this was merely one of the issues that prompted the Dispute.
Instead, there was an amalgamation of problems that eventually spun out of control and culminated into the Dispute. Therefore, one cannot ignore the influence of wage labour issues in the matter. It should be noted that the work of pilots is unique both in terms of its technical and managerial aspects. This was one of the elements that prompted these workers into a Dispute. First of all, pilots in Australia normally go through rigorous training that is personally funded; this is done in order to get a Pilot’s license.
Shortly after, pilots are required to get a commercial pilots license through the Civil Aviation Authority. After this, a pilot is expected to work on small aircrafts for a period of five to twelve years and may progressively move onto larger aircrafts. Once again, climbing up these ranks required different sets of licenses. (Curlews, 2004)The number of pilots in Australia in the period starting from 1980 to 1989 was not intensely high especially because a huge number of them worked for three major domestic airlines i. e.
Ansett, TAA and Qantas. In fact, this number varied from five thousand to five thousand eight hundred at that time. This indicates that relatively few people can qualify for these positions so the profession is quite superior. All the latter facts indicate that the profession is a highly skilled one requiring a lot of patience and persistence before witnessing any positive changes to one’s goals. A lot of experience is required in order to get a top position in any major Airline. Besides that, not only do pilots need managerial and technical expertise, they also need to brace themselves for all the complicated work challenges synonymous to their professions.
For instance, pilots ought to be accustomed to unusual working hours and long periods away from their friends and family. A pilot also spends so much time in training that by the time they actually start working in major Airlines, they are left with only a few years to do so. On top of that, their profession brings with it huge responsibilities since the lives of hundreds are under their control.
They are often subjected to several medical tests at unpredictable times and all these factors contribute towards the complexity of the profession. Given these scenarios, then it only natural for pilots to demand sound monetary payment for their services as well as effective workplace support that will go a long way in compensating them for these challenges. However, Australian pilots felt that the latter matters had not been addressed. (Paterson, 2008)