Jetstar ground workers extend strike moratorium

January 13, 2020
Photo: Jetstar

Jetstar baggage handlers and other ground workers have extended a moratorium on industrial action until January 29 after management agreed to resume negotiations over pay and conditions.

The ground workers took action twice in December as part of the wage push but agreed not to strike during the busy Christmas period.

The latest moratorium extends to the end of the traditional Australian summer break, which has already been disrupted for thousands of people by the national bushfire crisis.

READ: Airlines join wave of support for Aussie bushfire victims.

Jetstar announced in December it would reduce January capacity by 10 percent after unions representing pilots and groundworkers threatened continued industrial after Christmas-New year if their claims were not met.

But the Transport Workers’ Union said Jetstar management had agreed to meet with baggage handlers and ground staff on January 29 and the union had agreed to extend the moratorium as a sign of good faith.

TWU national secretary John Kaine said the workforce hoped Jetstar would undertake genuine negotiations and put forward proposals for consideration rather than just reject the union’s claims.

“Our claims are modest and they address safety and pay concerns,’’ Kain said. “Jetstar workers are the lowest paid in the Qantas group.

“Working conditions at Jetstar are tough with the company cutting the number of crew working to the point that safety is a problem.

“Crew want more rest breaks and more trained staff so they can do their jobs without risking injury.”

Pointing to Jetstar’s $4 billion in revenue and sizeable profits at Qantas, Kaine said workers had stuck with the company through tough times when Jetstar and Qantas insisted on pay freezes.

“Now they rightly expect to be treated fairly,’’ he said. “It’s time for the scales to be brought back into balance, and the company to meet their modest claims.”

The union representing many of the airline’s pilots are scheduled to meet management on January 28 in a separate dispute that also hinges on wages and conditions.

At this stage, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots has not notified the airline of any further protected industrial action but nor has it committed to a moratorium.

The union said it would assess the need for further action based on the progress of its enterprise agreement negotiations.