AIPA congratulates FWO for commencing legal action against Jetstar

AIPA congratulates FWO for commencing legal action against Jetstar

The Australian and International Pilots Association has today congratulated the Fair Work Ombudsman for commencing legal action against Jetstar for allegedly contravening workplace laws. Today’s announcement comes after AIPA lodged a complaint in May 2011, referring the matter to the FWO complex investigations unit.

Jetstar made headlines last year when four Australian pilot cadets were sent by the company across the Tasman to open New Zealand bank accounts and apply for New Zealand tax file numbers. The cadets signed contracts to be paid in New Zealand dollars.

By establishing the contract in New Zealand, Jetstar was able to avoid paying the Australian Modern Pilots Award. Following public exposure, the arrangement was altered by Jetstar, with the cadets signed to Australian common law contracts, although still below the rates stipulated in the relevant Enterprise Agreement.

AIPA President Captain Barry Jackson said today’s news, that the FWO is moving to commence legal action Jetstar over the arrangement, was welcome.

“We congratulate the Fair Work Ombudsman for investing time and energy into examining AIPA’s complaint,” Captain Jackson said.

“Essentially, what Jetstar was trying to do was to employ Australian pilots, flying in Australia, but operating under New Zealand labour conditions.

“This sort of situation would be instantly recognisable as wrong in just about any other industry, but because of the itinerant nature of pilot work, Jetstar was able to attempt to muddy the waters. Today the Fair Work Ombudsman has shown Jetstar those attempts have not worked.

“When AIPA received news of this arrangement last year we said it had the potential to erode pilot safety standards in Australia. Circumventing Australia’s system by using offshore jurisdictions to establish contracts is a slippery slope indeed.

“If Jetstar and other Qantas subsidiaries are allowed to operate in Australia, yet legally hire cadets overseas to avoid employment conditions here, then things will start to slide pretty fast. Thankfully, the Fair Work Ombudsman has shown Jetstar’s management they will not be able to get away with this as easily as they might have originally hoped.”