94% Jetstar ground crew vote for strike action as TWU warns extra police won’t fix security problem

Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking protected industrial action after the company rejected basic demands, including 30 guaranteed hours of work per week and increases to current wages, which are among the lowest rates in the industry.

The 94% vote for industrial action which covers 250 workers in Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide will allow them to take strikes in the coming weeks and months.

The vote comes amid concerns over security and safety at the airline and a warning from the TWU that the Federal Government’s announcement on extra police at airports won’t address security problems.

“Jetstar forces its workers on to part-time hours, some are guaranteed no more than 20 hours a week. 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,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

“Security at our airports is under threat because of bad working conditions, chronic fatigue and deliberate understaffing. The Federal Government has today announced extra police but this won’t fix the security risks we are seeing every day. At Jetstar ground crew are routinely directed to leave aircraft unattended while passengers are still boarding and to assist other flights. Crew must sign off that the aircraft is secure and they are concerned that anyone could interfere with the unattended aircraft or place a device on it. At ground handler Swissport, passengers were allowed onto a secure area to collect their own baggage because one worker was left alone to service an entire aircraft. The Federal Government is papering over the cracks on security at our airports while gaping risks are left,” Kaine added.

The Jetstar protected industrial action ballot was held after the company rejected most of the workers’ demands including, more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12 hour break between shifts, commitment to engaging Jetstar employees rather than untrained casual staff, guaranteed 30 hours a week, annual wage increases of 4%, recognition of workers having to take on more responsibilities and better consultation with workers.

“The work that Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew do is vital to the airline’s efficient and safe operations. They lift thousands of kilograms during a shift, they operate heavy machinery around aircraft worth millions of dollars and they are responsible for the safety of passengers in ensuring loading weights are correct and equipment is secure. They deserve to have their efforts recognised and they deserve decent jobs with fair pay that allows them to support their families,” he added.

“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. We are demanding that airports and airlines stop this downward spiral in working conditions to ensure that safety and security is the number one priority,” he added.

The Jetstar vote is a kick-start to a major industrial campaign planned for next year right across the road and aviation transport networks.

Airport workers have submitted claims to all major airports demanding: the same rate for doing the same job; secure work with regular hours; safety and security as the number one priority, rather than a focus on engaging work to be carried out for the lowest cost possible.

Australia’s four major airports, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, made over $2.2 billion in profit last year, according to the ACCC.

Qantas in August reported an underlying pre-tax profit of $1.3 billion for the 2019 financial year while Jetstar’s revenues were almost $4 billion.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.