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News headings from LabourStart

Pilots Campaign Scores Some Amazing Wins

« Back to News Articles Pilots Campaign Scores Some Amazing Wins

Negotiations have recently been concluded with Virgin Airlines on a new agreement for pilots who fly planes for Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA).

For those not in the know, VARA was the old Skywest and hundreds of the firm's pilots are TWU members.

The Skywest agreement expired in late 2013 and saying it has been a hard slog to get to where we are now is an understatement.

It has certainly been a long haul but we have chalked up some amazing wins. And the unrelenting campaigning by our members; delegates and staff has been well worth the effort.

I would like to pay much credit to our National Aviation Coordinator Matt Rocks and local organiser Glen Barron for their contributions to the campaign.

When talks first got underway Virgin unequivocally stated that any wages rises would have to be funded by productivity savings.

In other words we would have to offer up trade-offs.

Earlier this year they offered a package with 2.5% annual pay rises. But in return they wanted:

  • Removal of pilot's Business Class Travel.
  • Removal of staff travel in retirement.
  • Removal of Supper Allowance.
  • And other unacceptable concessions.

However by this stage our campaign was gathering huge momentum and we weren't about to accept what Virgin were dishing up.

Our survey of 282 pilots scored an 81% response rate and sent a clear message to the company that the pilots were UNITED on both coasts.

Great pressure was now on VIRGIN to agree to our demands and they relented.

Their next offer was vastly improved and included a massive win for the pilots - INTEGRATION!

Integration gives the VARA pilots the right to transfer between the airlines regional, domestic and international operations providing greater job opportunities.

Other good wins include:

  • The best rest provisions in the airline industry.
  • Three 3% annual pay rises.
  • $1200 bonus for accepting the agreement.
  • And numerous other improvements in conditions.

Summary: We did have to accept the loss of some entitlements but the overall outcome was fantastic. An absolute credit to all those who participated and stood strong together.