MIAMI – Eight Virgin Australia’s (VA) unions have joined to ask new airline owner Bain Capital for no more job cuts amid the current crisis. The organizations also express their will to co-operatively negotiate on the matter.
In a statement, the unions said they were concerned over the direction VA was taking. Accordingly, they would not tolerate permanent working changes because of a temporary crisis. These work cuts “to the bone” would include a coarse plan to drive down labor, safety, and service standards in the medium- to long-term.
According to workers, Bain made certain promises during the sale of VA that set off the alarms. The buyer company said that 75 aircraft would be ready for flying. However, unions denounced that just 56 were ready. Consequently, they are questioning how Bain plans to keep 6,000 workers employed with fewer aircraft operating.
The joint claim comes just a day before the first meeting of the advisory council takes place. The union coalition expects to raise the issue of governance and hold Bain to the promises it made.
A Necessary Change in Management
Beyond the condition requirements under the new company agreements, the unions desire a collaborative future at VA. Thus, they claim for a co-operative framework rather than a private equity one.
Regarding the latter, the unions categorized it as a model that tries “to steamroll decisions and fracture relations which have helped build up the airline”. They also claimed that Bain shifted in attitude towards negotiations by steering away from VA’s culture of collaboration.
Instead, Bain must show it can listen and learn from workers and can be aware of VA’s culture and brand. The airline’s restructuring process is expected to be temporary. But the management would remain in the long-term.
In the end, it is evident that there is a need to maintain community trust, as stated by all eight unions in one voice.
Topping the list of unions are AFAP (Australian Federation of Air Pilots), ALAEA (Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association), AMWU (Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union), and ASU (Australian Services Union), all of which signed the letter. Additionally, ETU (Electrical Trades Union), FAAA (Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia), TWU (Transport Workers Union) and VIPA (Virgin Australia Group Pilots) were part of the claim.
Featured photo: Virgin Australia aircraft. Photo: Darren England / Associated Press.