Pilots’ Walkout Cripples Air Travel in Australia
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Prime Minister Bob Hawke ordered military planes to begin carrying civilians after mass resignations by the nation’s airline pilots grounded all domestic service.
Hawke also said he would allow international airlines to carry domestic passengers in an attempt to break one of the most bitter labor disputes in recent Australian history.
″If we cave in to the pilots’ demands Australia is dead,″ Hawke said on Thursday.
The domestic airline industry shut down Thursday as carriers began dismissing pilots for not honoring their contracts. All 1,600 pilots retaliated by resigning en masse.
The pilots went on strike Aug. 18, refusing to work beyond the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are demanding a 30 percent wage increase, which Hawke says will raise annual salaries to $100,000.
The Labor government has called the raise unacceptable because of a wage- and-income policy limiting increases to 6 percent.
Most international airlines, meanwhile, agreed to provide seats for domestic passengers for the Australian segments of international flights.