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Timeline of Qantas industrial dispute

world Updated: Oct 29, 2011 19:35 IST

AFP
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The Australian flag carrier Qantas on Saturday took the drastic step of grounding its entire fleet indefinitely in an escalation of an industrial dispute that has been going on for more than a year.

Here are the key events since July, when the action by pilots, engineers and ground staff intensified:

July 22, 2011: Qantas pilots on international routes begin their first industrial action in 45 years, with unauthorised in-flight announcements telling passengers about their dispute.

August 16: Qantas announces plans for 1,000 job cuts under a restructuring of its international operations, a move met with a firestorm of criticism from unions.

August 17: CEO Alan Joyce launches a media blitz to defend the company's controversial Asia-focused restructuring plans, saying they are vital to prevent the carrier becoming irrelevant.

August 24: Qantas announces a doubling of its full-year net profit but warns of challenging times ahead as speculation mounts that the national carrier could become a takeover target.

August 31: Qantas holds conciliation talks with unions at the airline's request as it attempts to avert intensified strike action by long-haul pilots.

September 7: Pilots criticise as "hypocrisy" Qantas' decision to give chief executive Alan Joyce a 71 percent pay rise as the company plans to shed 1,000 staff.

September 20: Strike action by 4,000 Qantas baggage handlers, caterers and freight workers disrupts travel plans for thousands of passengers and leads to the cancellations or delays of 55 flights across Australia.

September 20: Unions accuse Qantas of "sending out thugs" to intimidate staff after the airline deploys larger aircraft and uses management staff in ground roles to deal with the latest strike action.

September 30: Baggage handlers and ground staff stage their second strike in just over a week.

October 5: Qantas says CEO Alan Joyce has received a death threat, and managers have been sent menacing letters and strike-breaking workers bullied amid the bitter industrial dispute.

October 6: Qantas baggage handlers and ground staff call off a planned strike, in what they call a "significant gesture of good faith" to engage with the airline, following months of industrial action.

October 10: The embattled carrier is forced to cancel or delay nearly 80 flights despite aircraft engineers calling off strike action after the airline threatened to withhold pay.

October 13: Qantas says it will cut nearly 100 flights a week and ground five aircraft for at least a month, as unions accuse the airline of waging war against workers.

October 14: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard tells the airline and unions to sort out their problems.

October 18: Qantas grounds another two aircraft and cancels 80 flights.

October 20: Gillard again urges Qantas to resolve its dispute with unions, as the airline's chief warns that further strikes could cost jobs.

October 29: Qantas takes the drastic step of grounding its entire fleet indefinitely in an escalating industrial dispute, a move the unions call "a stunning overreaction".