Paul Barry’s guide to the Qantas dispute. The Qantas drama involves many of the key people we’re following on The Power Index. But what’s this dispute actually about, and what are the stakes for those involved?

What’s it about? There are three different unions in dispute with Qantas, representing pilots, engineers and ground staff. Essentially, all are fighting the same battle, which is to hang on to their Qantas conditions of service and well-paid Qantas jobs as management tries to cut costs.

What does Qantas management want? Qantas management wants to slash labour costs, particularly on international routes, where the airline is supposedly losing $200 million a year. It wants to do this in a number of ways. — Paul Barry (read the full story here)

FWA president’s Qantas deal a leaving gift. It’s been a long weekend for Justice Geoffrey Giudice. One that may well have reminded him why, just last Thursday, he announced his intention to resign as president of Fair Work Australia.

Justice Giudice headed up the 15-hour Qantas tribunal in Melbourne, which finally ended in the early hours of this morning with the full bench of FWA granting the federal government’s application to end the industrial action. Qantas and the unions now have 21 days to reach a settlement.

It was a supreme effort by Giudice, especially considering the fact that just days earlier he had announced he’ll be leaving his role in February 2012, following 14 years as Australia’s chief industrial relations umpire in a career that’s spanned numerous changes to workplace laws. — Angela Preistley (read the full story here)

Qantas grounding is Virgin’s gain. Alan Joyce’s dramatic decision to ground Qantas’ entire fleet over the weekend is a win for Virgin Australia and its well-regarded CEO John Borghetti. More than 20,000 people have already taken up Virgin’s offer of discounted fares for stranded Qantas passengers, and the airline has added 3,000 extra seats today. Over the weekend, Virgin shot from position 16 to position 1 on Technology Spectator’s list of the most-used Australian websites.

Given that marketing gurus believe that Joyce’s decision has done “fundamental damage” to Qantas’s brand, Borghetti will be hoping the long-term boost to Virgin’s bottom line will be just as dramatic. — Matthew Knott (read the full story here)

PJK hits out at his enemies. Again. Bob Brown is an “environmental Jesuit” who needs a good “political karate chop” and Australia is a lost child “waving your little flag, unsure of the landscape around us”. Watch out, Paul Keating is on the loose again. And he’s taking pot shots at all those around him.

The former prime minister was speaking at the launch of his new book After Words at the City Recital Hall in Sydney yesterday. The book is a compendium of 55 speeches given by Keating since he left office in 1996. — Tom Cowie (read the full story here)

Peter Fray

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