AWU engineers' rebirth of row

AWU engineers' rebirth of row

The never-ending stoush between the titanic Australian Workers Union, headed by the best-known faceless man around, Paul Howes, and miniature guild the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, run by professional thorn in the side Steve Purvinas, is on again.

The two are locked in a vigorous demarcation dispute over coverage of aircraft engineers at Qantas and the AWU is upset that the ALEA (aka the Lamies) has objected to its new deal with the airline.

But something, or someone, was missing from the latest AWU blast: national secretary Howes.

Instead, the ritual fulmination was executed by acting national secretary Scott McDine.

Conspiracy theorists will no doubt note that Howes is stepping out with chief Qantas spin doctor (and former Joe Hockey staffer) Olivia Wirth.

However, AWU spokesman Nick Lucchinelli said the tribune of the people was on holidays overseas. Howes must really be relaxing: he hasn't tweeted since June 26 and didn't pop up during the ALP's recent ousting of PM Julia Gillard.

Purvinas was easier to reach on the blower and he hit back at AWU claims the ALEA refused to participate in 40 meetings held to reach the Qantas deal.

"We didn't participate in the meetings because they shut us out as they negotiated licensed aircraft engineers into the agreement covering unlicensed aircraft engineers," he told CBD.

"I expect Qantas to start paying licensed engineers $50,000 less a year on average and start paying them under the unlicensed engineers agreement."

Told that McDine had described the ALEA as "spoilers, suffering from relevance deprivation syndrome", Purvinas said: "It seems that Scott McDine has found some employment for [Gillard flack] John McTernan, and that's who's writing his press releases."

Not so, said Lucchinelli: "It wasn't written by John McTernan."

Avast, ye lubbers

Sailors are mopping the blood from the decks and caulking the hull after the cessation of boardroom hostilities at Buccaneer Energy. And as the smoke cleared and surgeons sawed off the legs of the wounded after a meeting of shareholders on Tuesday, it became clear the battle was something of a draw.

The Cheng family, the insurgent Singapore-based investor that owns more than 8 per cent of the company - with the support of new 20 per cent shareholder Meridian Capital - succeeded in sweeping chairman Alan Broome and non-executive director Frank Culberson from the board.

Cheng nominees Nick Davies, Shaun Scott and Clinton Adams were appointed.

However, Chief executive Curtis Burton and finance director Dean Gallegos kept their seats on the board.

Lawyer Brian Moller was also appointed to the board, giving each side three apiece.

A tie-breaker might come from Meridian, which has yet to exercise its right to appoint a director.

All sweet again

CBD loves it when corporate types say what they really think and for a brief moment last week that was what customers of Melbourne's Yarra Valley Water got to experience.

Callers to the company's emergency help line were told that they might be cut off during the call and this was Telstra's fault.

Perhaps not what you want to hear when struggling with a backed-up dunny spewing sewage all over the house, but at least honest.

Sadly, after an inquiry from CBD the company, er, went to water.

"There was no intention to blame the service provider," a spokeswoman told CBD. "However, we have altered the message to remove any confusion on this issue."

And a Telstra spinner insisted everything was copacetic.

"There was an issue out there that our techs were able to resolve quickly - our customer's happy, the system is humming so we're happy," he said.

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