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  • flight.org

    Alex Paterson | www.flight.org .

    [A PILOTS PERSPECTIVE OF THE 1989 PILOTS DISPUTE] ALEX PATERSON

    On the 18th of August 1989, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) embarked on an industrial campaign ostensibly in support of a 29.47% pay claim. This action precipitated one of the worst and most expensive industrial disputes in Australia's history, now known as the 'PILOTS DISPUTE' of 1989.

  • www.flight.org | Alex Paterson 2

    A PILOTS PERSPECTIVE OF THE

    1989 AUSTRALIAN PILOTS DISPUTE

    An aviation safety article

    Author: Alex Paterson Last updated: 11 March 2008

    Reprinted with permission at flight.org

  • www.flight.org | Alex Paterson 3

    Redistributed without corrections or omissions

    -- Flight.org

  • www.flight.org | Alex Paterson 4

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 6

    OVERVIEW ........................................................................................................... 7

    THE FORMATION OF SIR PETER ABELES ALLIANCE. ................................................. 10

    THE ROLE OF SIR PETER ABELES. ......................................................................... 11

    SIR PETER ABELES' SUSPECTED REAL AGENDA. ..................................................... 13

    ABELES' CONTEMPT FOR THE POSITION OF PILOT. ................................................. 15

    ABELES' EARLY PREPARATION FOR THE DISPUTE. ................................................... 16

    THE ROLE OF THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION. (IRC) .............................. 17

    THE ROLE OF BILL KELTY AND THE ACTU ............................................................... 19

    THE ROLE OF PRIME MINISTER BOB HAWKE ........................................................... 21

    THE ROLE OF THE PILOTS WHO SCABBED .............................................................. 23

    THE ROLE OF THE CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY. (CAA) ............................................ 25

    THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE DISPUTE. ........................................................... 26

    AUSTRALIAN AIRLINES. .................................................................................... 26

    ANSETT AIRLINES. ........................................................................................... 26

    SIR PETER ABELES' FINAL MEETING WITH PILOTS .................................................. 30

    THE PILOTS' RESIGNATIONS ................................................................................ 32

    ANALYSIS OF THE PILOTS' PAY CLAIM ................................................................... 35

    1. THE RESTORATION OF PILOTS' PAY. ............................................................... 37

    2. THE RENEWAL OF THE AUSTRALIAN AIRLINES' PILOTS' CONTRACT .................... 40

    3. The Establishment Of An Industry Award ......................................................... 40

    4. The Re-Establishment of Respect for the Position of Pilot ................................... 40

    THE HIDDEN PAY RISE WITHIN THE INDIVIDUAL CONTRACTS .................................. 41

    ANALYSIS OF THE INDIVIDUAL CONTRACTS ........................................................... 44

    THE PROFESSION OF AIRLINE PILOT ..................................................................... 48

    EXTERNAL FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO AIRLINE DISASTERS .................................. 50

    THE AUSTRALIAN FEDERATION OF AIR PILOTS. (AFAP) ........................................... 52

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    1. Trade Union ................................................................................................. 52

    2. Technical Committee ..................................................................................... 53

    3. Professional Guild ......................................................................................... 54

    MISTAKES MADE BY THE PILOTS........................................................................... 55

    CONCLUSION ..................................................................................................... 58

    APPENDIX 1 ....................................................................................................... 62

    APPENDIX 2 ..................................................................................................... 66

    APPENDIX 3 ....................................................................................................... 66

    APPENDIX 4 ....................................................................................................... 71

    APPENDIX 5 ....................................................................................................... 78

    APPENDIX 6 ....................................................................................................... 80

    APPENDIX 7 ....................................................................................................... 88

    APPENDIX 8 ....................................................................................................... 90

    APPENDIX 9 ....................................................................................................... 98

    APPENDIX 10 .................................................................................................... 116

    APPENDIX 11 .................................................................................................... 124

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR ......................................................................................... 127

    COPYRIGHT ...................................................................................................... 128

    flight.org .......................................................................................................... 129

  • www.flight.org | Alex Paterson 6

    INTRODUCTION

    On the 18th of August 1989, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) embarked on

    an industrial campaign ostensibly in support of a 29.47% pay claim. As part of this

    campaign, AFAP Pilots imposed on their employers (Ansett, East West, Ipec and

    Australian Airlines) a limitation on the hours they were prepared to work in the form of

    only making themselves available for flying duties within the normal office working hours

    of 9am to 5pm. 1

    This action precipitated one of the worst and most expensive industrial disputes in

    Australia's history, now known as the 'PILOTS DISPUTE' of 1989.

    The Dispute has been conservatively estimated to have cost the Australian economy well

    over a billion dollars and resulted in the loss of many thousands of jobs associated with

    the demise of the many businesses indirectly affected. 2

    The Dispute was a significant factor causing Australia to plunge into recession nearly two

    years earlier than its trading partners during the early 1990s.

    The Dispute, which has never been resolved, has resulted in nearly 80 % of the pilots

    involved not returning to their former positions, despite the pay rise allegedly causing

    the Dispute being well and truly met. This being the case, a number of key questions

    need to be answered:

    • What was the real agenda behind the Dispute? • How did the Dispute effect the Profession of Airline Pilot? • What are the long term ramifications of the Dispute in regards to airline safety?

    The following is a pilot's perspective of the real causes of the Dispute and the reasons

    why the vast majority of the pilots involved were unable to return to their former

    positions.

    1 This action is now known as the Pilots' 9 to 5 campaign. The Pilots decided to use this milder form industrial action as opposed to a conventional strike because they were aware of the potential disruption to the rest of the nation that their industrial action would cause. 2 Some commentators have put the cost of the Dispute to the Australian economy as high as $4 billion.

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    OVERVIEW

    The Dispute witnessed the formation of an alliance involving the then joint Managing

    Director of Ansett Airlines, Sir Peter Abeles, his close friend, the then Prime Minister of

    Australia, Mr Bob Hawke and to a lesser extent senior people associated with:- the

    Hawke Government, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the Industrial

    Relations Commission (IRC) and senior airline management from both the major

    domestic airlines. This alliance was aligned against the Pilots. 3

    The formation of this alliance led to the unprecedented situation of the extensive

    resources of two multinational corporations (TNT and Newscorp, the joint owners of

    Ansett) being combined with the Australian Federal Government's power and influence.

    This alliance resulted in a significant amount of public resources being made available to

    a private corporation to fight, what would appear to be, the private industrial dispute of

    one man, Sir Peter Abeles, the then joint Managing Director of Ansett Airlines.

    The consequen

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