Virgin Australia has locked in a final enterprise agreement with unionized employees after almost three-quarters of its pilots agreed to a new two-year deal guaranteeing pay rises and job security.
The deal gives pilots rate increases, protection from forced redundancy until December 2022, a guaranteed 57.5 hours a month with the ability to increase hours by “trip swapping” with other pilots.
The pilots’ agreement is the last of seven Virgin agreements to be voted in under new owners Bain Capital and will go to the Fair Work Commission for approval.
It covers pilots covered by the Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA) and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP).
Virgin management last night welcomed the agreement, with a spokesman saying it would provide security and certainty for pilots.
It would also position the parties to work together “to respond to the short-term pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and build a long-term future,” he said.
VIPA president John Lyons said pilots had held out for the best possible outcome for themselves and their families while ensuring they could do their jobs to the high standards expected by Virgin.
“Overall, given the circumstances, it’s not a bad package,’’ Lyons said.
“It was very difficult to negotiate because the negotiators within the company had very little scope to move.”
The AFAP said a key benefit was three hourly rate increases throughout the agreement representing a 4.9 percent increase on the current agreement and a minimum of 12 days off each 28-day roster period.
“The approval of the agreement delivers certainty for Virgin B737 Pilots during a challenging period,’’ AFAP senior legal officer Deanna Cain said.
“While the deal isn’t perfect it represents a solid platform to build on in the future.”
The agreement comes as VIPA is set to merge with the Transport Workers’ Union.
The two will create a specialist pilots’ division to give pilots a more powerful voice in conjunction with cabin crew, baggage handlers, ramp workers and other staff.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine welcomed the result and commended Virgin pilots for standing strong during a tumultuous period.
“Virgin’s new owners have now worked with unions and their members to achieve sensible outcomes for workers across the board,’’ he said, describing it as “a stark contrast” to Qantas moves “to illegally axe and outsource workers”.
Both unions have also called on the Federal Government to adopt a national plan for aviation that would save jobs and businesses while guaranteeing affordable, reliable air travel.