In grounding the entire domestic and international Qantas fleet last month, the firm's chief executive, Alan Joyce, claimed the action was the only way to stop the unions' industrial campaign. The implication was that grounding the planes was the only way to have Fair Work Australia (FWA) intervene and order a stop to all industrial action.
In the weeks since, a number of anti-union ''cold war'' industrial relations warriors, including Peter Reith, Chris Corrigan, economist Judith Sloan and coalition politicians, have thrown themselves into the debate, questioning the efficacy of the Labor government's Fair Work Act. The common theme is that the grounding of the Qantas fleet demonstrated the weakness of the act, because the company had no other way to get FWA to order a cessation of all industrial action other than by grounding its entire fleet. This is patently untrue.