Qantas seals three-year labour deal with engineers union

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Qantas Airways has reached an agreement with its maintenance engineers, effectively eliminating the possibility of industrial action until 2015.

Australia's national industrial court Fair Work Australia has endorsed an agreement on employment terms and conditions for 1,600 licensed engineers that "will remain in place" until 31 December 2014, Qantas said in a statement.

In December, the Oneworld carrier and the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) presented the agreement to Fair Work. It includes annual pay increases of 3% per annum, new licensing arrangements, the easing of restrictions on extended hours rosters, and new arrangements for the retirement of engineers.

"This is a positive outcome that will allow Qantas to move forward with certainty and allow our customers to continue to book with confidence," said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. "The union cannot take any industrial action before 2015."

A Qantas spokesman said proceedings are continuing with Fair Work Australia, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Australian and International Pilots' Association (AIPA). Discussions on a new workplace agreement for long-haul cabin crew will start later this year. The current agreement expires on 1 January 2013.

The ALAEA announcement follows Qantas's announcement in late December that it reached an agreement with its short-haul cabin crew. The three-year agreement was reached with the Flight Attendants Association of Australia's (FAAA) domestic and regional division.

In late October 2011, Qantas halted operations for two days after weeks of escalating labour friction with its unions. It reached the decision after deciding to lock out all employees covered by the agreements being negotiated with ALAEA, TWU and AIPA.