Strike vote opens for Dnata ground workers in Qantas' supply chain

Transport Workers' Union

Today Dnata ground crew will begin voting on industrial action over the company's attempt to push through an agreement that imposes pay cuts to experienced workers and below minimum award conditions.

Recent talks with Dnata failed to reach agreement, with the company still refusing to improve wages and conditions, increase part-time minimum hours, or withdraw its attempt to scale back overtime pay.

Dnata is one of the main recipients of low-cost ground handling contracts from Qantas, picking up Sydney and Melbourne international ground work, after the company illegally outsourced nearly 2000 workers. As a result, wages for workers getting Qantas planes off the ground have been drastically suppressed, with Dnata workers facing the prospect of falling below award conditions under the proposed agreement.

Dnata workers are under enormous pressure from understaffing as the company struggles to recruit workers into low paid, part-time jobs. Existing employees are working longer hours, but are being refused the security of more guaranteed hours in their agreement and told they'll have to work longer shifts before being paid overtime rates.

A successful protected action ballot result would extend protections under the Fair Work Act to all TWU members at Dnata to take action, including possible strikes if a fair agreement is not reached.

A recent staff memo from Dnata said unsafe behaviour had led to aircraft and equipment damage, but warned workers not to use the term 'under the pump.'

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said that though strike action is a last resort, safety incidents and chronic understaffing would only be exacerbated under the proposed Agreement.

"Dnata workers are bravely voting to get rights to take protected industrial action because of their shocking treatment despite making huge sacrifices for this company."

"They've gone from two years of being shut out of JobKeeper by the Morrison government to being pushed into an agreement with suppressed wages and part-time work with minimal guaranteed hours that's caused a mass exodus in this industry."

"Since Qantas illegally sacked and outsourced this workforce, it's pushed away its responsibility of directly bargaining with workers, and instead is using its massive commercial power to bully companies like Dnata into ultra low-cost contracts creating a downward spiral of wages and conditions."

"As a product of Qantas' illegal conduct, Dnata has struggled to recruit and retain staff into low-paid, part-time and chronically under-staffed roles. The proposed agreement would only worsen the problem."

"These workers want to remain in the industry but they literally can't afford to see their wages and conditions go backwards any further. Across our airports workers are overworked and exhausted trying to get flights operating smoothly, but still struggling on wages that are barely above the legal minimum with no financial security."

"The short-term, profit-driven obsession that has spread through aviation has led us to crisis point. The Albanese government should urgently establish a Safe and Secure Skies commission to set fair standards across the industry and ensure we've got highly-skilled and experienced workers from the baggage room all the way to the cockpit."

The protected action ballot opens Monday and runs until Friday 2 September.

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