Geoff Dixon is rattling his union-slashing
sabre in the face of his Qantas pilots who are trying to pervert Crikey’s
to save the Flying Roo.

After fiddling with the maintenance workers,
Dixon is upping the ante with the Biggles boys, starting with a warning
letter about air crew cost savings and scrapping a sweetheart deal whereby
Qantas paid $500,000 a year to the Australian & International Pilots
Association to cover the salaries of the union’s president and vice-president.
Gee, a highly principled union wouldn’t feel compromised about being paid by
the boss, would it?

Dixon wants to manoeuvre Qantas pilots’ pay packets closer to what Virgin
and Jetstar are paying. He’s starting by
pitching the difference between domestic salaries but wants to go on from there,
giving the AFR this opening shot: “For Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon, it
is a simple problem: he pays every pilot flying from Sydney to Brisbane about
$80,000 a year more than Virgin Blue’s Brett Godfrey gives his pilots for the
same job.”

Ah, the good old comparative wage justice
argument. Dixon wrote to his 2,600 pilots yesterday to say the airline was assuming
a cost base with oil prices of US$60 a barrel and “they must accept change and
accept it now”.

The Fin reports AIPA boss Ian Woods warning that
Qantas risks an unprecedented fight with all its unions if it continues with
its aggressive tactics. APIA members have never gone on strike but “their patience is being worn
thin”. Woods then perverted Crikey’s campaign to
save Qantas:

Mr Woods said that if Qantas could afford
to benchmark its executives’ salaries against executives in New York and
London, then pilots’ salaries should not be benchmarked against Asian competitors
such as Singapore Airlines and Emirates, who earn closer to the $140,000 a year
Virgin Blue pays its pilots than the standard $220,000-plus earned by a Qantas
domestic captain.

Crikey believes Woods has it totally
ar*e-about. We’re sticking with our campaign to fix Qantas’s biggest single
comparative cost disadvantage by calling on the Qantas board to benchmark Geoff
Dixon’s remuneration against the airline’s two main competitors, both
profitable high-quality operations – Singapore Airlines and Cathay
Pacific. Geoff was paid $6.1 million
last year, the Cathay CEO $1.6 million and Singapore’s
boss just 1.6 million Singaporean dollars.

When they do that, we could start taking a
mere 36% pay differential seriously.