Airline slams workers who walk off job as ‘unforgivable’


Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew are set for a 24-hour strike over the Australian budget airline’s current employment proposal.

The Transport Workers’ Union’s previous demands included more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts, guaranteed 30 hours a week and annual wage increases of four per cent.

Jetstar’s package doesn’t meet those expectations and is in with the Qantas Group’s three per cent pay increase offer.

The TWU on Friday said more than 250 workers would strike on February 19 at Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports. They accused Jetstar of proposing an employment agreement which was “designed to keep Jetstar workers impoverished”.

“Jetstar workers do not take this decision lightly and we apologise to members of the public who will be unable to fly on Wednesday,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement on Friday.

“But these workers are in the fight of their lives for a decent standard of living, to be able to put food on the table and to ensure they and their kids have a future.

“At the moment that future is bleak.”

Jetstar workers went on strike twice in December.

Jetstar Group chief executive Gareth Evans said in a statement the company had made a number of concessions on backpay and rostering after more than a year of negotiations with the union, noting the industrial action was “unforgivable”.

“The TWU’s decision to disrupt air travel at a time when local tourism and the economy is hurting is unforgivable,” he said. “It’s another example of how out of touch this union is.

“The deal delivers annual wage increases well above private sector wage growth and more than what most companies are offering. It also ensures we can keep offering the low fares our customers expect.

“The union keeps ignoring the fact that no part of Jetstar or the Qantas Group will do a wage deal more than three per cent.”

Jetstar customers set to travel on February 19 would be provided with a full refund or flight reschedule if requested.

With close to 60 per cent of Jetstar workers affiliated to the TWU, any agreement would heavily rely on the union’s endorsement.


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