Jetstar presses for vote on ground handler pay dispute

February 10, 2020
Jetstar pay dispute
Photo: Steve Creedy

Jetstar will seek to end a long-running dispute with the Transport Workers’ Union by asking workers to vote on a package that includes a 3 percent annual pay rise.

Management met with TWU officials Monday and tabled a package that includes the 3 percent annual pay rise, up to a year’s worth of back pay and roster-related benefits.

The airline estimates the backpay equates to more than $A2000 per worker, based on current average annual earnings across the group, and says its deal is in line with the wages approach across the Qantas Group.

“The deal delivers annual wage increases well above private-sector wage growth,’’ a spokesman said.  “We’re committed to doing a deal that rewards our people but not at the expense of our ability to offer low fares.”

Read: New search possible for MH370 this year.

Management has given the TWU until Friday to endorse the package but will move to an access period this weekend regardless before opening up a vote a week later.

The union, which took industrial action before Christmas in support of the pay claim, has described its claims as modest and says Jetstar workers are the lowest paid in the Qantas group.

It has accused the company of cutting the number of crew to the point that safety is a problem, although Jetstar denies this.

It has called on the company to give ground crew more rest breaks and training to allow them to do their jobs “without risking injury”.

The airline is continuing separate talks with pilots represented by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots with discussion due next week.

These will be followed by discussions with a second union representing pilots at Jetstar. The Australian and International Pilots Association.

AIPA members at Qantas mainline in January voted to approve a short-haul agreement that included a 3 percent annual pay increase over three years as well as improved sick leave provisions and better rostering with an increase in days off per month.

Opening a new pilot academy in Toowoomba last month, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce pointed to the bushfires and the coronavirus as a reason Qantas needed to stick to its 3 percent wages policy.

“We’re not going to be offering anything above that,’’ he said.

“We’ve made that clear to the Jetstar pilots and the TWU. That is not going to change.”

Joyce said the reason Qantas could handle upsets such as the coronavirus was because of the discipline in the business over recent years as well as the strength of its balance sheet and liquidity.

“And we’re not going to put that at risk for outrageous pay claims by any unions,’’ he added.