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The Eighteenth Annual Kingsley Laffer Memorial Lecture 2010

'Turbulent Times - a practitioner's perspective of Industrial Relations in Aviation'

Presented by Sue Bussell,
Executive Manager, Industrial Relations, Qantas

Sue has over 30 years experience as an industrial relations practitioner. She has occupied roles in the three sides of our tripartite system, as a union official, as a state commissioner and as a senior manager.

Sue began her industrial relations career as an official for the Flight Attendants Association of Australia before taking a position as an Industrial Officer for the Postal and Telecommunications Union. She then moved to Ansett as an Industrial Manager before being appointed as a Commissioner on the Victorian Industrial Relations Commission.

From the Victorian Commission she moved to a consulting role for the Australian Industry Group.

In 1994 she joined Qantas as Group Manager, Human Resources just after the time of the merger she then managed the Qantas Retail Sales outlets before being appointed as Operations Manager for the start-up phase of the Qantas owned leisure subsidiary Australian Airlines. In her role with Australian Airlines she established new enterprise awards and agreements for Pilots, Cabin crew and Administrative Personnel, as well as managing other operational and recruitment functions for the new airline.

For the last six years, she has held the position of Executive Manager, Industrial Relations, in which capacity she is responsible for Industrial Relations for the Qantas group. Her role has overseen the industrial relations adjustments associated with the de-regulation of the aviation market, the rapid continuing growth of low-cost carriers and over the last 12 months, the collapse of business travel with the GFC. During her tenure as the head of industrial relations at Qantas there have been three major changes to the legislative framework, including the expansion and then abolition of AWAs and the demise and then reinvention of the award framework for industrial relations. In each of this area, and especially with the recent Award modernisation, Qantas has been at the forefront of change: spanning some 35,000 employees, 32 awards, 43 enterprise agreements and 16 separate unions, with high union penetration and a proactive change agenda.

She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in Sociology.