In an angry response to the earlier posting on Plane Talking Jetstar has revealed plans to put new pilots onto a two tier pay scheme by transferring graduates from its sham New Zealand cadet scheme onto an Australian ‘modern award’.

The Australian and International Pilots Association says this would mean a lower pay scale for pilots doing the same work , as there is already a current EBA covering Jetstar pilots under which it would expect the carrier to employ new hires.

This is what Jetstar says about our earlier report.

Jetstar wishes to respond to the posting dated 10 March relating to our Cadet Pilot Program.
Jetstar stands by its Cadet Pilot Program, which was launched last year, and rejects recent criticism with respect to the employment arrangements of our Cadet Pilots.

Today’s Plane Talking posting takes a grossly sensationalised position.

Jetstar is currently finalising and is merely days away from offering Australian (Commonwealth) contracts for its Cadet Pilots that is in line with the modern award.

For the record, three Jetstar Cadet Pilots, each out of our training program based in New Zealand, have just concluded their line training with Jetstar and have been ‘checked to line’ by our airline, the background and basis for the Plane Talking posting. All three took place in the past six days.

The three are temporarily unable to fly within Australia until the finalisation of an Australian (Commonwealth) employment contract. The matter is likely to be rectified within days, due to a delay in finalising the workplace arrangement.

The putting in place of an Australian employment mechanism – and delays in this process – is the sole reason for this short term delay experienced by our three Cadet Pilots from re-entering our operations.

Contrary to what was stated in the posting, these Cadet Pilots are receiving full remuneration at this time. They will not be out of pocket whilst waiting for their Australian workplace contract to be finalised.

Jetstar will employ these Pilot Cadets under an Australian (Commonwealth) contract that is in line with the modern award.

We wish to make it clear it has always been our intention to have an Australian employment agreement in place for our Cadet Pilots.

Further with respect to clearance for Jetstar Cadet Pilots to fly, this is the responsibility of Jetstar’s Check and Training organisation within the airline (through delegation).

All of our Cadet Pilots are on existing Individual Employment Agreements (IEA) in New Zealand.

But according to the testimony given by Bruce Buchanan, the Jetstar Group CEO, to the Senate inquiry into pilot training and airline safety on February 25, Jetstar’s intention with the NZ scheme was to employ the graduates on a New Zealand award under which he claimed they could earn up to $NZ67,000 a year.

This now appears to have been replaced in haste with a plan to employ the pilots in Australia, a move which will however mean that those earnings will be taxed in Australia and attract a superannuation levy.

The Jetstar response continues to insist that this was a New Zealand training scheme, even though the only connection the cadets had with New Zealand was a New Zealand bank account and tax file number that they were flown to New Zealand by Jetstar in order to open and acquire.

One could easily come to the ‘sensational’ conclusion, as the pilots association has, that this is a sham.

Shortly before Jetstar reacted to the story the pilots association released this reaction to the grounding of the cadets.

QANTAS MUST COME CLEAN ON CADET SCAM

There are disturbing revelations that the Qantas Group has set up another sham employment scheme to evade the Australian industrial relations system and pay cadet pilots in New Zealand dollars.

A group of Jetstar cadets face an uncertain future after being stood down without pay, pending ‘operational clearance’.

Despite being Australian citizens, when they were first recruited the cadets were asked by the Qantas Group to go to New Zealand for three days of observational flying and to open New Zealand bank accounts.

They then did their endorsement training in the UK and their line training in Australia whilst being paid in New Zealand dollars.

Now that they have completed their training, the cadets have been left to their own devices on a basic living allowance and are awaiting an Australian contract based in Australia.

“The Qantas Group must give these young cadets some assurance of what is in store for them and quickly,” Australian and International Pilots Association Vice President Captain Richard Woodward said.

“The company needs to show faith and reassure these cadets that it intends to stand by the commitments it made.”

“We want them up in the air again as soon as possible, on full pay, under the Australian Jetstar Pilots Agreement.”

Captain Woodward said it was also important the company clarify exactly why it was basing its cadet training in New Zealand yet clearly operating it out of the UK and Australia.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that a company can consistently market itself as the national carrier and then go out of its way to avoid Australian workplace laws by placing its Australian cadets on New Zealand contracts and paying them in New Zealand dollars.

“That includes basic entitlements Australian workers take for granted, like the 9% compulsory superannuation contribution,” Captain Woodward said.

The news about Jetstar training its cadets in New Zealand is only the latest example of the company trying to undercut Australian pilots and avoid Australian workplace and superannuation laws.

Last year Qantas gave its New Zealand subsidiary, Jetconnect responsibility for the majority of all trans-Tasman flights and Mr Paul Daff, Head of Jetconnect, has confirmed in recent court proceedings that an additional 28 flights per week will be transferred from Qantas to Jetconnect in May 2011.

Employment conditions at Jetconnect are inferior, with pilots earning almost one-third less than they do at Qantas.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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