Around three quarters of Virgin pilots have voted in favour of a new enterprise agreement amid aviation chaos brought by sweeping lockdowns.
The pilots’ agreement is the final deal to be voted up by Virgin workers since the new owners, Bain Capital, took the reins last year. It will now go to the Fair Work Commission for approval, the final hurdle in Virgin achieving all seven new agreements across its workforce.
President of the Virgin Independent Pilots Association John Lyons said the new pilots’ deal comes at an important time.
“The current aviation climate provided difficult circumstances for workers to negotiate, yet by standing strong and united Virgin pilots have succeeded in achieving a good package. Given the fatigue of more than a year of uncertainty and a yo-yo effect of stand ups and stand downs, pilots have held out to ensure the best possible outcome for themselves and their families, while ensuring they can do their jobs at the high standards expected of the airline,” he said.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine welcomed the result and commended Virgin pilots for standing strong during a tumultuous period.
“We congratulate Virgin pilots for achieving good outcomes and ensuring certainty for the future. Signing off on a decent enterprise deal enables pilots to focus solely on the important job of getting planes safely into the sky.
“Virgin’s new owners have now worked with unions and their members to achieve sensible outcomes for workers across the board. A stark contrast to Qantas’s callous approach to illegally axe and outsource workers to prevent them exercising their legal rights to bargain or take industrial action.
“The Federal Government should take stock and ensure workers right across aviation are supported so that the industry remains safe, secure and viable once demand for flights returns to normal,” he said.
The TWU and VIPA are set to merge in the coming months following approval from the Fair Work Commission. A specialist pilots’ division will be created to give pilots a powerful voice as they join TWU members covering cabin crew, baggage handlers, ramp workers, aircraft cleaners, caterers, refuellers and security workers in the fight to lift standards in aviation.
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.