A suspected cyber attack has forced the termination of a crucial vote on a new wage deal by Qantas’ long-haul pilots, which the airline wants passed before it will commit to buying a fleet of new planes.
The vote on an in-principle agreement struck between Qantas management and the pilots’ union opened on July 10, and was scheduled to close next Sunday.
Qantas chief pilot Dick Tobiano said the airline’s cyber security team and experts from IBM had begun an investigation after the the ballot was “terminated due to a perceived compromise of the voting process”.
Captain Tobiano said the vote would be rescheduled but he did not give exact dates for the new poll in his email to pilots.
“We’ve made this decision to ensure that the voting process remains robust, secure and impartial,” he said of the termination of the vote on the new enterprise bargaining agreement.
“Elections Australia will also be using an independent IT security expert to carry out an investigation.”
To meet its obligations under industrial law, Captain Tobiano said Qantas would be “conducting the whole voting process again” and pilots would receive notice of a new ballot within the next three days.
Negotiators from Qantas and the Australian and International Pilots Association struck an in-principle agreement in late May covering about 1300 pilots, which includes an 18-month wage freeze.
More recently, leaders from the pilots’ union have met their members around the country to discuss the proposed deal.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has said that reaching a deal with the pilots is one of several conditions that needs to be met before he will commit to buying a batch of 787-9 aircraft.
The airline has options and purchase rights for 50 of the Dreamliner aircraft.
The carrot for the pilots in accepting a pay freeze is that the next-generation 787 aircraft Qantas has on order will be flown by its long-haul operations, thereby helping to secure their careers.
Qantas has also offered unionised staff who accept a wage freeze as part of their new enterprise agreements a one-off bonus of 5 per cent of their base pay.
Shares in Qantas rose more than 3 per cent to $3.45 on Monday, in one of the largest gains on the benchmark ASX200 index.
Source: The Sidney Morning Herald