Qantas engineers pledge whacky, wrong-handed strike action

Airplane mechanics fight left-handed

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association says oddball actions planned for Friday won't affect passengers.

Right-handed Qantas engineers have vowed they will use only their left hands for screwdrivers and spanners as industrial action triggered by negotiations over a new enterprise agreement heats up.

The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association has written to Qantas advising that two members, one in Melbourne and one in Perth, would not use their right hands for the essential tools for a week, starting Friday.

And in a separate protected action, the engineers will stop work for a minute at 10am on Friday. The 60-second stopwork will happen across the country.

Qantas hit out at the engineers’ move and said the union was pushing for unreasonable pay increases and trying to hold on to outdated work practices.

"The union is playing ridiculous games as they negotiate a new pay agreement," a spokesman said.

"Where will this all end? If all 1600 Qantas aircraft maintenance engineers only used their left hand to maintain our aircraft this would be a safety risk.

"The union is demanding unreasonable pay increases, resisting changes which will improve productivity and want to stick to outdated work practices for modern aircraft."

The latest move follows a vote on Monday where Qantas long-haul pilots agreed to take protected industrial action against the airline for the first time in 45 years.

Australian and International Pilots Association vice-president Richard Woodward said 94 per cent of the 1429 pilots who voted in the ballot were in favour of the action.

A final industrial strategy is expected to be mapped out over the weekend, Mr Woodward said.

The pilots' association is pushing for assurances on job security and a promise that only Qantas pilots would operate Qantas long-haul flights. They are also seeking a pay rise, some free flights and equal pay for Jetstar pilots, among other things.

After Monday’s vote, Qantas released a statement that said the company was "prepared to negotiate sensible and reasonable increases in pay and conditions for our long-haul pilots however the current demands from the union are excessive and unsustainable".