Airline Dispute Grounds Australia’s Qantas, Government Intervenes

Posted October 29th, 2011 at 9:05 am (UTC-5)
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Australia's government says it will not wait for a bitter dispute that has grounded the country's Qantas Airways to resolve itself.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Saturday she has asked for the country's industrial regulator to intervene and end a series of ongoing strikes. She said she made to move because the escalating dispute could have major economic implications.

Qantas Airways grounded all its aircraft Saturday because of the strikes, announcing all striking employees would be locked out beginning Monday evening.

The unions, represent pilots, licensed engineers, baggage and ground workers, and catering staff have been protesting pay and restructuring plans.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the unions are “trashing our strategy and our brand.” The airline says the strikes have cost the company $16 million a week. It said the total financial impact so far has been almost $70 million.

Approximately 70,000 passengers have been affected and more that 600 flights have been cancelled.