News Jetstar in damage control as ground crew, handlers to strike before Christmas

Jetstar in damage control as ground crew, handlers to strike before Christmas

Scenes of chaos at Australia's major airports looks likely as Jetstar ground staff voted to go on strike for better pay and conditions Photo: AAP
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Air travel in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas is set to be disrupted for Jetstar passengers as ground crews and baggage handlers across the country voted to strike.

A separate ballot for pilots voting to strike closed at 12pm on Friday after being open for a week with the union announcing later on Friday “more than 90%” of eligible AFAP members voted in favour of industrial action in the week-long ballot.

Reuters reported the decision could delay flights in the coming weeks after pilots failed to agree on a pay deal, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) said.

“The measures that could be taken at the Qantas Airways Ltd subsidiary are as varied as declining duty changes and 24-hour work stoppages,” the union said in a statement, according to Reuters.

No action will be taken over the Christmas to New Year period to protect the holiday for the travelling public, the AFAP said.

The decision by ground crews and baggage handlers was taken after the airline operators rejected their demands for better employment conditions, including a guaranteed 30 guaranteed hours of work per week and increases in current wages.

The pilots are calling for better pay and conditions.

Jetstar, a subsidiary of Qantas, said it will do everything it can to minimise disruption if a strike is to go ahead.

“We appreciate industrial action would be extremely frustrating for customers,” a Jetstar spokesman said.

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

The Transport Workers Union says its members are among the lowest rates in the industry.

For the pilots, the results of the vote held by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and scrutinised by Elections Australia will decide on a number of different actions.

More than 51 per cent of the votes must be ‘Yes’ for any measures to become a protected industrial action.

The union claims its members represent about 80 per cent of the more than 800 commercial pilots employed by Jetstar in Australia.

It is understood Jetstar captains earn more than $300,000 annually.

Jetstar’s offer would see a three per cent increase in pilot costs, which does not meet AFAP’s demand.

The union said Jetstar cancelled a meeting last Friday, as well as the next one scheduled this Friday, but Jetstar categorically denied the claims.

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

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

-with AAP