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Qantas says it will be strike-free for up to four years

The Transport Workers' Union (TWU) confirmed on 24 November that it will not appeal Fair Work Australia's (FWA) decision that no industrial action can be taken by parties involved in the Qantas Airways industrial dispute during the negotiation and arbitration periods.

The union had on Monday, after not being able to reach an agreement with Qantas during the 21-day negotiation window, said it will consider whether to challenge FWA's decision.

The union is now likely to put its support behind the Australian and International Pilots Association's (AIPA) planned court appeal challenging the FWA's ruling.

TWU's decision prompted a statement from Qantas, reassuring customers that they can now book flights with the airline without fear of further strikes.

"The FWA ruling means that these three unions are unable to take industrial action for the upcoming period of arbitration and for the period of the EBA [Enterprise Bargaining Agreement] determination by Fair Work Australia - which could be up to four years," said airline spokeswoman Olivia Wirth.

She added that FWA is holding direction hearings for arbitration between Qantas and TWU and Qantas and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association on 24 November.

The date for the hearing between Qantas and the AIPA has not been set.

Wirth also dismissed reports that Qantas's CEO Alan Joyce had declined to appear before the senate.

The Australian media had on 24 November said Joyce turned down an invitation to face questions at the senate inquiry into the Qantas Sale Act on the same day.

"Mr Joyce has agreed to appear before the committee again. He is overseas on business and we are working with the committee on suitable dates which he can appear, " said Wirth.

She added: "Mr Joyce will explain to senators just how damaging the proposed amendments being considered by the committee would be to Qantas, the Australian aviation industry and all Australian businesses."

On Monday, Qantas had announced that the airline's negotiations with all three unions representing pilots, engineers and ground staff have broken down and that the cases will all be heading for arbitration.

AIPA and TWU sought a 21-day extension to negotiations but were turned down by the airline.

The unions said the carrier had preferred "the drawn-out process of arbitration".

The deadline for the carrier and unions to resolve their disputes was 21 November. With no agreement reached, under orders issued by FWA, binding arbitration will take place under its control.

FWA stepped in after the Oneworld member grounded all its domestic and international operations on 29 October in protest of the then ongoing industrial action. Over 447 flights were cancelled, affecting 68,000 passengers.

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