May 5, 2021


The Transport Workers’ Union and Virgin Independent Pilots Association are planning to merge in July with a pilots’ division to be created, aimed at boosting the profile and representation of pilot members.

Pilots will maintain a distinct voice in the TWU, while joining cabin crew, baggage handlers, ramp workers, cleaners, caterers, refuellers and security workers, in a unified presence across the industry.

The announcement will be made today at TWU’s National Council oversight body, with VIPA attending for the first time.

National Secretary Michael Kaine said the TWU would be a stronger union with VIPA pilots.

“Our unions have a lot in common and our members are facing similar attacks on their pay and conditions. Amalgamation will give our members a stronger voice not just in Virgin but across the aviation landscape. Both unions are focused on lifting standards in aviation and using our collective strength to achieve that. We are putting the Federal Government on notice that workers right across the airport are united and that we will hold them to account over safety and service standards in aviation,” he said.

President of the Virgin Independent Pilots Association John Lyons said the new pilots’ division will elevate the voice of pilots and all airport workers.

“We are proud to merge with a union which will help boost the voice of pilots and give us added strength across the industry, whether in dealing with employers or in achieving regulatory reform. Pilots like other airport workers do an important job and deserve fair pay and conditions. They deserve to work in an industry that recognises their training and dedication, not one where standards are continually being lowered. Virgin pilots are keen to take the fight to reverse this trend right to the Federal Government and we look forward to doing this alongside other transport workers,” he said.

The merger will take place after July subject to a vote by Virgin pilots with plans underway to develop a new pilots’ division to include all TWU pilot members after the amalgamation. The pilots’ division and will involve specialised representation and the availability of loss of licence protection for pilots.

TWU and VIPA have urged Virgin to finalise the enterprise agreement with pilots, the only outstanding Virgin agreement following the Yes vote by cabin crew last Friday and approvals by ground crew, engineers and others last year.

TWU and VIPA worked together during the Virgin administration, pushing new owners Bain Capital to ensure a full service airline to maximise jobs, with regional and international divisions, tiered class and lounges.

Both unions have also called on the Federal Government to adopt a national plan for aviation, to save jobs and businesses and to guarantee affordable, reliable air travel in Australia including to regional areas.

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