Jetstar says it won’t be influenced by “standover tactics” as ground crew and baggage handlers prepare to walk off the job on Thursday amid a stand-off over pay and conditions.
The budget carrier has cancelled 28 domestic flights to minimise disruption as Transport Workers Union members carry out two-hour work stoppages at major airports as part of an escalating industrial dispute.
A spokeswoman for the Qantas-owned airline said it “won’t be swayed by standover tactics” and had a plan in place to protect customers’ travel during the strike, which the TWU announced on Friday after 250 workers took part in a similar stop-work action.
Customers on cancelled flights had been contacted and moved to alternative services or refunded at no cost, the spokeswoman said.
The TWU says workers are facing “poverty wages” and insecure, irregular hours. It is calling for a 4 per cent wage increase and conditions including more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts and a minimum of 30 hours work each week.
However, Jetstar boss Gareth Evans has said the TWU’s claims equate to a 12 per cent increase in ground crew labour costs, which threatened its ability to sell cheap airfares and was out-of-step with the Qantas-wide policy of capping wage deals at 3 per cent.
Jetstar is also in a stand-off with its pilots, who went on strike for four hours on Saturday and Sunday, causing 90 flights to be cancelled and others to be rescheduled. Pilots have said they will not strike from December 20 to January 3.
Jetstar on Monday cancelled about 10 per cent of all domestic flights – or close to 1000 – through January, which it said would help it manage disruptions better if pilots chose to resume industrial action in the new year.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told executive leaders in an email on Monday that he expected the industrial disputes to continue for “some time” given how far apart the company and its staff were on what they expected from their new wage agreements.
Thursday’s two-hour strikes will hit Melbourne at 9.30am and Sydney at 10am. Workers will walk off the job for two hours at Cairns at 5.30am, Brisbane at 6am, Adelaide at 8am and Avalon at 8am.
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