Jetstar Staff To Go On Strike, Throwing Christmas Holidays Into Chaos
Jetstar ground staff and baggage handlers will go on strike in coming weeks, potentially causing traveller havoc over the busy Christmas and holiday period,
The Transport Workers Union said on Friday that 94 percent of Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew had voted in favour of taking protected industrial action in a dispute with management over pay, conditions, working hours and breaks.
The action -- which could include strikes or refusing to work overtime -- could occur in coming weeks and months, the TWU said, claiming Jetstar management had rejected "basic demands" from workers for better conditions.
The union claimed wages at Jetstar "are among the lowest rates in the industry." Some 250 workers across Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports will be included in the industrial action.
It has not been announced exactly when, or in what form, the industrial action will occur.
“Jetstar forces its workers on to part-time hours, some are guaranteed no more than 20 hours a week,” claimed TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
"The rates are low and families are struggling. Jetstar workers took a pay freeze in recent years and they expected the company treat them fairly now they are earning bumper profits. Disappointingly Jetstar have rejected the vast majority of the workers’ demands outright."
10 daily has contacted Jetstar for comment.
The TWU had asked Jetstar to consider boosting conditions including more rest breaks, a 12-hour break between shifts, a guaranteed 30 hours of work per week, and wage increases of four percent.
The TWU said ground crew and baggage handlers work hard enough to deserve a pay rise, but also that stretching resources and overworking staff had security implications.
“The problem at Jetstar is symptomatic of a bigger problem right across the aviation industry where a race to the bottom is seeing airports and airlines make huge profits while workers are underpaid, forced onto part-time work and injured because of deliberate understaffing," Kaine said.
“Security at our airports is under threat because of bad working conditions, chronic fatigue and deliberate understaffing... at Jetstar ground crew are routinely directed to leave aircraft unattended while passengers are still boarding and to assist other flights."
Kaine noted that the federal government had earlier on Friday announced increased security at airports, including anti-terror police with assault rifles, but he claimed this was just "papering over the cracks on security at our airports while gaping risks are left."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday that heavily armed police will patrol Brisbane and Canberra airports this Christmas, with squads to be stationed in seven more airports over the next 18 months.
The extra 135 officers will be armed with MK18 short-barrelled rifles and trained to assess hostile threats and behaviour.
They will be accompanied by bomb-detection dogs.
"These highly-trained officers run towards dangerous incidents, not away from them," Morrison said on Friday.
Australia's terror threat remains at "probable".
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the threat of terror had not diminished.
"We know that for whatever reason terrorists will always look at airports as a target point," he told reporters.
"I want ... all those that are travelling this Christmas through our airports to be reassured by the presence of these officers."
The officers will eventually be stationed in all capital cities except Hobart, as well as airports in Cairns and the Gold Coast.