Rex pilots take protected industrial action over pay

Rex's SAAB twin engine pilots will take three forms of initial action next week.

Rex's SAAB twin engine pilots will take three forms of initial action next week. Photo: AAP

Rex pilots have voted to take protected industrial action next week, with the union saying staff at the regional airline have been disappointed by wage negotiations for four years.

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots says it has informed Rex its SAAB twin-engine pilots will take three forms of initial action from Tuesday.

There will be a ban on topping up planes with extra fuel, a usual measure which prevents the need to refuel at destination airports, and pilots will not wear their uniforms.

Pilots have also voted in favour of further potential action, including a refusal to clock on after less than a 10-hour break, and four-hour work stoppages.

The union says it is committed to reaching an agreement, but negotiations have been stalling since 2018.

“Members employed by Rex as SAAB turboprop pilots are disappointed that negotiations over a new enterprise agreement have not progressed satisfactorily with the company over four years,” the union’s statement said.

Rex said it has mitigating measures in place to make sure there is minimal impact on travellers during the school holidays, and customers can expect minor changes to service delivery.

The airline said it offered its SAAB twin-engine pilots a 5.1 per cent pay increase from July 1, plus catch-up payments amounting to eight per cent once the company is profitable post-COVID.

Rex’s deputy chairman John Sharp earlier said the negotiations exposed the “hypocrisy” of the union because it agreed to a two per cent pay rise for QantasLink pilots in 2021 and 2022.

The Fair Work Commission approved the union’s application to hold a ballot on protected action in early June, and 93 per cent of its members voted online over the past seven days.

The wage negotiations have become heated in recent weeks, with the airline accusing the union of sharing “malicious, misleading and deceptive” information with its members during the pay dispute.

The company said it had regularly informed the market about the “predatory” behaviour of its regional competitor QantasLink, which it said led Rex to stop services in Bathurst, Grafton, Lismore and Ballina, in New South Wales, as well as Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

During the week pilots were voting on the action, Rex announced it would expand its services in 11 regional centres across NSW, Victoria and South Australia as it returns to profitability.

Topics: Rex
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