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Jetstar Workers Expected To Strike (Read 43 times)
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Jetstar Workers Expected To Strike
Dec 6th, 2019 at 3:37pm
Jetstar strike threatens Christmas holiday plans

ABC News
December 6 2019

Passengers booked on a flight with budget airline Jetstar could have their holiday plans disrupted, with ground crew, baggage handlers and pilots expected to strike in the weeks leading up to Christmas and beyond.
Key points:

    Jetstar ground crew, baggage handlers and pilots have voted to do a series of strikes in the lead up to Christmas and beyond
    The Transport Workers Union says workers are struggling on low pay, but the company says its offer of a 3 per cent annual wage increase is reasonable
    The pilots union, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP), also wants better pay and conditions

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said on Friday that about 250 Jetstar workers in Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide had voted in favour of taking protected industrial action, which could include work stoppages of up to 24 hours.

In addition, 650 Jetstar pilots part of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) have also voted to strike.

The decision to strike was taken after the airline rejected demands for better employment conditions relating to pay and working hours.

The TWU said the union must give the company three working-days' notice before taking industrial action, so the earliest a strike could take place would be on Thursday.

But there could be a number of short strikes in the lead up to Christmas and beyond, it added.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement that the vote comes amid concerns over security and safety at the airline and a warning from the union that the Federal Government's announcement on extra police at airports will not address security problems.

    "Security at our airports is under threat because of bad working conditions, chronic fatigue and deliberate understaffing," Mr Kaine said.

Jetstar group chief executive Gareth Evans said the company had contingency plans to deal with ground staff strikes, which could mean bringing in other casual staff, but that pilot strikes could disrupt peoples' holiday travel.

The company said it had about 380 ground crew, ranging from baggage handlers to ramp supervisors, that earn on average more than $70,000 per year, and that ground crew had been offered a 3 per cent annual wage increase.

Mr Evans said he was surprised the TWU pursued a protected action ballot given they only provided their full list of claims two weeks before applying to take this step.

    "The impact of any potential industrial action by members of the TWU is likely to be minimal as we have strong contingency plans in place," Mr Evans added.

Jetstar also locked in dispute with pilots union

Jetstar and the pilots' union are also in a dispute over pay, and on Friday 650 pilots also voted to take industrial action, including strikes.

AFAP executive director Simon Lutton said in a statement Jetstar pilots had voted "overwhelmingly" in favour of industrial action, which could mean flight delays over the coming weeks.

But he promised strikes would not occur in the days between Christmas and New Year.

The airline has said it proposed a 3 per cent annual wage rise for its 830 pilots nationwide, but that the union was demanding the equivalent of a 15 per cent pay increase in the first year.

Mr Evans said Jetstar would "do everything we can to protect the travel plans of our customers and minimise the disruption to their journeys".

    "However, customers may face delays and cancelled flights if the union [AFAP] chooses to take industrial action.

"With less than 20 days until Christmas, we say to the union: come to the table with a reasonable offer that is fair for pilots and which also ensures the future of low fares travel for Australians.

"Do not put the holiday plans of tens of thousands of Australians in doubt."

He said the union's demands would put "significant pressure on the low fares our customers rely on and force us to review our investment in new aircraft, new technology and new destinations".

He noted airline captains earn, on average, more than $300,000 a year, and a 3 per cent increase was "consistent with our position across the Qantas and Jetstar Groups".

"We remain committed to reaching a new agreement to support the great work our pilots do every day, but not any cost."
TWU says workers are 'struggling' on low pay

Mr Kaine said Jetstar workers had taken a pay freeze in recent years and they had expected the company would compensate them when it returned to profit.

Jetstar parent Qantas in August reported an underlying pre-tax profit of $1.3 billion for the 2019 financial year.

Aside from a 4 per cent increase in pay, other baggage handler and ground crew worker demands include more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts, a commitment to engaging Jetstar employees rather than untrained casual staff.
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