Jetstar pilots get green light for Christmas strike vote

November 19, 2019
Jetstar Christmas
Jetstar and Tiger aircraft at Sydney Airport. Photo: Steve Creedy

Potential Christmas chaos at Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar has moved a step closer after the Fair Work Commission approved a ballot to determine if pilots are willing to walk off the job over pay and conditions

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots applied for a ballot for protected industrial action last week and said the decision showed the commission was satisfied it had genuinely tried to reach an agreement with the company.

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“The AFAP has been genuinely negotiating with the Company for nearly 12 months but the company remains unwilling to shift on any of the pilot’s pay and conditions such as rostering,” said AFAP executive director Simon Lutton.

“Despite our willingness to continue to meet and work towards reaching an agreement, the company has refused to move sufficiently to address the pilots’ concern.’’

Lutton said the AFAP remained committed to reaching an agreement on outstanding pay and condition claims and a bargaining meeting was scheduled for November 29.

Members will be asked to endorse work stoppages of up to 24 hours as well as work-to-rule bans ranging from deciding not to work overtime to refusing to follow standard fuel-saving procedures.

The pilots are upset they are the lowest-paid jet flight crews employed by Australia’s four airlines and Lutton said they were tired of not being valued as highly as their peers at other carriers.

“Jetstar pilots simply want to be valued fairly in line with their peers at other airlines,” he said

The AFAP, which represents 80 percent of Jetstar line pilots, is now compiling a ballot roll of its Jetstar pilot members which will be submitted for scrutiny by electoral officials before Christmas.

A majority of the members must vote yes for the protected industrial action to proceed.

A Jetstar spokesman said management was disappointing that the AFAP had taken the step “this early in the negotiations” .

“ We remain committed to reaching a new agreement to support the great work our people do every day, but not at any cost,’’ a spokesman said.

The airline says it is prepared to offer a 3 percent pay rise but argues the pilots demands would drive an increase in costs of about 15 percent.