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Virgin Australia: You think that’s a Union? This is a Union!

Virgin Australia: You think that’s a Union? This is a Union!

The new owners of Virgin Australia, Bain Capital are playing hardball with their ever dwindling number of pilots. Reportedly they are demanding very big reductions in pay and conditions including an increase in the number of hours worked and a decrease in the number of days off.

Virgin Australia has some heavyweight management in Jayne Hrdlicka to negotiate on that. Hrdlicka has a well earned reputation for playing hardball with unions, earned while she was at Qantas/Jetstar. But apparently in these hard times for airlines, pilots and other employees, she does not hold all the cards.

Breakaway Virgin pilots union to join TWU

Although the Association for Virgin Australia Group Pilots (VIPA) has a diminishing membership caused by COVID-19, it still holds a little trump card in its back pocket. That is the possibility of VIPA and another union with an enviable reputation for militancy – the Transport Workers Union (TWU) amalgamating. Talk about potentially creating a monster bigger than the sum of its individual parts!

TWU and VIPA announced on 12 November that they were about to sign an MOU prior to their future amalgamation.

Take that Virgin Australia CEO Jayne!

2PAXfly Takeout

The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.

It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.

This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.

Smart move boys (as they overwhelmingly are).

This move will consolidate both unions’ power, amidst the loss of jobs in the Airline industry associated with the pandemic. The 2 unions already have a good working relationship due to their cooperation during the administration and sale of Virgin Australia. The TWU with 66,000 odd members including baggage handlers has been a muscular supporter of industrial action in the airline industry.

Next Thursday (19 November) will see the end of Virgin Australia’s 7 months in administration, with the Federal Court ordered transfer of shares to Bain.

Let the games begin!

With the TWU, VIPA, REX and Qantas/Jetstar, these pandemic times are proving interesting for the domestic airline market.

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