Hundreds of Jetstar baggage handlers and ramp workers will walk off the job again on Thursday as a bitter dispute over pay and safety concerns drags on.
Transport Workers’ Union national secretary Michael Kaine has accused the budget airline of “shutting down” negotiations in late November and ignoring workers’ communications since.
On Wednesday, he demanded the company return to the negotiating table to avoid further strike action by workers demanding a “minuscule” extra 90 cents an hour.
“We are appealing again today. Jetstar needs to come to the table,” Mr Kaine said at Sydney Airport on Wednesday.
“It’s Jetstar that is putting the Australian public out here, not the workers.”
Up to 28 flights will be cancelled across Australia on Thursday morning due to the TWU action.
Ahead of a strike last Friday, the airline said it had minimised disruption by cancelling 30 services in advance.
This week, it cut its January flight schedules by about 10 per cent, saying it would reduce disruption to passengers.
The union has demanded more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts, guaranteed 30 hours a week and annual wage increases of 4 per cent.
The pay rise – which Mr Kaine said amounted to less than an extra dollar an hour – was “minuscule” when compared to Jetstar’s profits, he said.
Jetstar said it had offered the staff a 3 per cent pay rise.
The company said it would meet only if the union “provides clear evidence they are prepared to discuss a deal that fits within our wages policy”.
“We won’t be swayed by TWU’s standover tactics and have strong contingencies in place to protect customers’ travel,” a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Jetstar said it had already contacted affected customers to offer alternative flights, a refund or a change to their travel date.
Mr Kaine said the union had a “litany” of information about workers who had back pain, crushed knees and shoulder injuries due to the “sheer intensity” of their work.
“These workers are asking for nothing more than a safe work environment and a modest claim to meet the needs of their families,” he said.
In addition to the TWU strike, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots began industrial action on Friday. It continued over the weekend.
Jetstar said the industrial action into January, combined with the December strikes, will cost it up to $25 million.