Qantas Strikers Protest By Working With Only Left Hands

Qantas employees, many of whom spent last month participating in rolling strikes, are getting creative: Several union engineers announced that, starting Friday, they will continue to work, but only with their left hands.

The unusual protest was triggered by an ongoing labor debate. Reuters reports that Qantas engineers and pilots are concerned that their jobs are being outsourced to Asian workers. The rising cost of fuel has exacerbated the problem as the airline has been forced to lower overhead, affecting salaries and hours.

The one-handed protest comes as Tiger Airways, a Singapore-based discount airline popular in Australia, has been grounded down under over safety concerns, forcing Qantas to scramble to get travelers home. The protest seems designed to keep fliers moving without caving completely on the engineers job-security demands.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the airline has expressed concerns that the decision of the right-handed engineers to use their left hands will put passengers in danger, but the union quickly pointed out that the men are very senior engineers and quite experienced. Oh, good to know then.

The airline's pilots, meanwhile, have voted to take industrial action for the first time in forty years. To give a sense of how angry the pilots are: 94 percent of them are in favor of some sort demonstration. Now Qantas executives are waiting to see what form the action ends up taking.

The engineers will probably be able to stop using their hands altogether if the pilots refuse to fly.

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