Hundreds of striking Jetstar staff members have urged the company to return to the bargaining table as a bitter industrial dispute prompts the budget airline to ground more flights.
Jetstar cancelled 48 flights across Australia on Wednesday morning as ground staff again took strike action.
Flights originating in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Avalon, Cairns, the Gold Coast and Hobart were all among those affected.
It’s the second round of industrial action by baggage handlers and ramp staff. They also went on strike in December, with the Transport Workers Union accusing the budget airline of proposing an agreement “designed to keep Jetstar workers impoverished”.
On Wednesday, TWU secretary Michael Kaine said Jetstar and parent company Qantas were “acting like corporate dictators”.
“All around the country Jetstar workers are standing up to the company and saying ‘no, it’s not good enough’,” he told striking workers at a rally at Sydney Airport.
“The time has come for this company to return to the table and get back to the partnership that existed 10 years ago.”
Earlier, Mr Kaine told the ABC that front-line workers had told the TWU of unsafe working conditions, including understaffing and broken equipment.
He also dragged the county’s airports into the escalating dispute.
“We are going to tell the airports that they have a responsibility here,” he said.
“They are allowing companies like Jetstar and Qantas to impose these terms and conditions. That’s not good enough.”
But Jetstar hit back, with chief executive Gareth Evans describing the airline’s offer to workers as “a strong package”.
“It’s a 3 per cent wage [increase], together with the ability to secure back pay and benefits around rostering and around allowances,” he said.
“The TWU is prosecuting a broader agenda – this is part of their 2020 year of action against airports and airlines. Unfortunately, we’re first cab off the rank.”
Mr Evans also said the strikes were causing an “unforgivable” disruption to travellers.
He said three-quarters of affected customers had been rescheduled on Jetstar and Qantas flights within three hours of their original departure time. Refunds were also available if requested.
Workers will vote on the proposed wage deal early next week.