In what may have been a parallel universe on Friday the Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged the unions and Qantas to negotiate a settlement of their disagreements.

On that occasion the CEO of the Qantas group, Alan Joyce, was seen and heard by millions of Australians saying he preferred to deal with the unions directly.

“We’ve not been calling on the government to intervene,” he said.

“We’ve been saying to the unions, ‘We need to sit down, we need to talk, we need to get this resolved’.”

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Good clear, resolute leadership stuff.

But a short while ago the Qantas pilots union opened a letter from Qantas delivered on Friday night from executive manager Sue Bussell informing the association that Qantas had suspended scheduled conciliation meetings before Fair Work Australia.

The union said today that it was possible that Qantas was trying to exacerbate the situation, which was one in which the pilots have not actually gone on a strike once.

Instead they make in flight announcements that Qantas pilots should be the one’s flying Qantas jets, which is a bit radical and old fashioned, but heck, they do seem to be good at keeping the jets they fly from tree parking and other other misadventures.

Of course the pilots could be totally wrong about Joyce. This could be just a bit of playful joshing to keep them guessing while he goes around the media traps preaching conciliation and consultation while locking them out of the negotiating room.

It soo much easier to sort things out if the help just shuts up and does what it is told.

Some sort of clarification from Qantas as to what Alan Joyce meant on Friday in response to government concerns, and what he said in a letter sent to the union the same day would be helpful.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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