Passengers with bookings on the popular low-cost carrier Jetstar are set to experience delays next week as the baggage crews and ground teams undertake strike action. Negotiations have failed between Qantas and the Unions, as the latter argues for improved workers’ rights.
What are the details?
250 Jetstar ground crew are expected to go on strike next Wednesday the 19th of February for 24 hours, in protest for better working rights. These events will delay flights operating within Australia, or arriving/to from Australia.
According to a union statement, the Jetstar baggage team and ground crew have the following issues:
- Only up to 20 hours a week guaranteed work
- Randomly rotating shifts that might be late at night one day or early hours the next
- No protecting to Qantas hiring temporary untrained labor instead of seeking out Jetstar staff for engagement.
The union is arguing to push the committed work up to 30 hours, set shifts in stone and promote Jetstar employees if they perform well or are constantly performing high-level duties.
“The problem at Jetstar is happening right across the fragmented aviation industry. Multiple airlines and aviation companies are in a race to the bottom, financially squeezing their workforces to make a profit. It means families are suffering. It means safety and security are being compromised at the airports every day,” said Union representative Michael Kaine.
What has been Qantas’ response?
Qantas has rejected these demands and has insisted on the same existing agreement, with some additions:
- Ability to demote workers when they are no longer needed for high positions
- Reduce redundancy payments if workers are fired (In Australia, an employer must pay out a month paycheck or more if a worker is let go).
- Make it harder to take personal leave.
Qantas has also said that they would not receive any of the $1.3 billion AUD that will be paid out as a bonus thanks to an excellent 2019 year.
Naturally, these claims are made from the union and it is not entirely clear how much of an impact these counter-demands would make on the quality of life of a baggage worker. Needless to say, the workers feel strong enough about this that they voted 94% to strike.
“Jetstar workers do not take this decision lightly and we apologize to members of the public who will be unable to fly on Wednesday. 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.” continued the union leader.
“At the moment that future is bleak. The company is forcing underemployment onto these workers, making them desperate for more hours to boost their low incomes. Jetstar workers are utterly baffled as to why they can’t get a guarantee for 30 hours a week when they can see that the work is there.”
Last year, Jetstar made $4 billion AUD and the airports in Australia that the airline operates too made $2 billion AUD collectively.
Qantas has been reached out to about this story, but at the time of publishing, has yet to reply.
What do you think of this strike action? Let us know in the comments.