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Government intervention stops proposed agreement between Qantas and pilots for a 15 per cent increase for those flying Boeing 747-400s

PETER THOMPSON: Next, to a wage fixing problem which is causing a very major headache.

BOB HAWKE: If the Qantas pilots were to adopt the same approach as the domestic pilots, that they believed, that they believed that they could in fact operate outside the system, then this Government would adopt the same approach as we have in regard to the domestic pilots.

PETER THOMPSON: The Prime Minister putting Qantas pilots on notice that there will be no sweetheart deals while the domestic pilots' dispute continues. Bob Hawke confirmed in Parliament that the Government had intervened to stop an agreement between Qantas and its pilots. An interim agreement had been reached for pilots manning the new 747-400 aircraft. The intervention has angered the Australian International Pilots Association which has accused the Prime Minister of going off half cocked. The Association's president, Wayne Kearns, denies that the deal for Qantas pilots involves a pay rise of 15 percent. He's talking to John Shovelan.

WAYNE KEARNS: We believe that in the current domestic pilots dispute, there's been a number of attempts by a number of persons to involve Qantas pilots in the dispute and unfortunately, we're not going to satisfy them and we're not going to take the bait. They can go to hell.

JOHN SHOVELAN: So what, you're going to continue flying and continue copping whatever you've been copping already?

WAYNE KEARNS: Well, we will continue flying and at some time, at a point that we choose, we will react but we will set the time, the pay .. they won't. The 15 percent agreement is rubbish. There is no such suggestion of 15 percent.

JOHN SHOVELAN: You are not actually upset about this at all then?

WAYNE KEARNS: No, we are very angry about it but we're angry about the direct interference. We believe that it should be between the employer, ie, Qantas Airways Ltd, and the employees, ie, the Qantas pilots to determine what occurs, always recognising that whatever comes up, ultimately has to be tested in the Arbitration Commission.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Well, the Prime Minister had called you wheelers and dealers.

WAYNE KEARNS: Well, the Prime Minister also said last week that you could learn to fly within eight hours and he also said that we could only fly within ten hours a week. All I would say to him is that if you can learn to fly within eight hours, how come the total domestic airline system has been shut down for three days. Eight hours - I reckon that you could have people trained up within about a day or so, to replace the current domestic pilots.

JOHN SHOVELAN: So as far as the Qantas pilots go, you will be flying and you will continue negotiating the 747-400 award and changes to your own award?

WAYNE KEARNS: Yes, that's correct. That's the current situation.

JOHN SHOVELAN: And there's no likelihood of you taking industrial action in the fact that the Government has intervened.

WAYNE KEARNS: We believe that there's certainly an intention on behalf of certain parties, to try and get us to take industrial action. We're not going to be provoked by that. They can go to hell and we're not going to get involved in that. However, there must be ultimately, a certain limit to our patience but our present intention is to negotiate as much as we can and work within the current system, as it is at the moment.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Who's provoking you?

WAYNE KEARNS: Well, there's a number of parties ...

JOHN SHOVELAN: The domestic airlines?

WAYNE KEARNS: Sorry.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The domestic airlines.

WAYNE KEARNS: Well, that could be one party, yes. That could be one party.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Why would they be trying to involve you in it?

WAYNE KEARNS: I am not quite sure of the ultimate motive there. Maybe it could result in certain airlines getting international travel rights.

JOHN SHOVELAN: So you think there's some commercial influences at work there?

WAYNE KEARNS: Could well be. Could well be, it's circumstantial evidence and I don't have any solid evidence but that could ultimately be the aim.

PETER THOMPSON: Wayne Kearns of the Australian International Pilots Association which of course, covers Qantas.