Qantas engineers at LAX accuse senior management of bullying over unionising attempt

City of Los Angeles, California, United States: Qantas Airbus A380 with registration VH-OQG shown during towing at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport.

Qantas engineers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have accused the airline of intimidation tactics after they put forward a formal attempt to unionise.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents members in the United States and Canada, have called for Qantas to “cease and desist intimidating Qantas employees by threatening their jobs and interfering with their right to support having a union”.

The notice said Qantas’ threats to outsource the engineers’ job violated US federal law, according to the Australian Financial Review. A Qantas spokesperson said the airline strongly rejects the union’s claims, saying that most of the airline’s workforce in Australia is unionised and often negotiates with the respective unions on the normal course of business.

IAM submitted an application at the start of this year to represent approximately 150 engineers that were looking for better treatment by Qantas engineers.

The union wrote that the engineers “decided collectively that forming a union with the IAM and negotiating a legally binding contract would be the best way to ensure that they are recognised appropriately for the value they create for Australia’s largest airline.” The engineers claim they are earning one of the lowest pays in comparison to their counterparts – around US$65,000 (AU$98,500) a year.

The engineers need a majority to support the application so that they can collectively bargain with Qantas.

After submitting the application, IAM alleged that senior management tried to intimidate the workers.

“Unfortunately, we have received several reports that there are efforts to influence and/or intimidate employees at Qantas,” IAM associate general counsel Connie Vallas wrote in the letter. These threats include the possibility of sacking staffers that support unionising attempts.

IAM represents thousands of mechanical engineers in the United States that work for a litany of carriers, including American Airlines, British Airways, PSA Airlines and more.

A Qantas spokesman said: “Our Los Angeles team is a key part of our engineering network, and we’re committed to engaging closely with all of our employees.”

(Featured Image: Qantas Airbus A380 at LAX – iStock/Angel Di Bilio)

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