Jetstar workers walk off the job

Jetstar file image. Picture: Getty
Jetstar file image. Picture: Getty

JETSTAR workers have walked off the job on day one of rolling strikes as part of a pay and safety dispute.

Baggage handlers and ground staff are striking at different times on Friday in Sydney, at Melbourne’s Tullamarine and Avalon airports, and in Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide.

The strike – less than two weeks out from Christmas – comes after the budget airline rejected workers’ demands for pay increases, minimum hours on the job and safety improvements.

“The airline has cut its staffing levels right back to the bone meaning workers are constantly under pressure,” Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

SafeWork NSW slapped Jetstar with an improvement notice on Thursday evening as crew prepared to walk off the job.

The notice said Jetstar’s Sydney staff risked being crushed by aircraft or sucked into plane engines as a consequence of “inadequate safe work procedures”.

A separate notice issued to the airline by the NSW industrial safety watchdog last month said “frequent” machinery malfunctions during ground operations put staff at risk.

The union claims Jetstar makes $4 billion in revenue, while workers are forced onto insecure low-paid work.

Negotiations broke down after the company rejected demands including for more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts and a guaranteed 30 hours a week.

This first day of disruption will be followed by pilots halting planes for four hours on both Saturday and Sunday.

Overall, Jetstar claimed it will cancel 44 services on Saturday and 46 on Sunday.

Industrial action by pilots will continue throughout the week with a range of lower level bans likely to cause delays.

The company says customers travelling from December 13 to December 20 can request a full refund prior to flying.

Pay negotiations broke down after nearly a year, with Jetstar warning it wasn’t prepared to alter its position.

“The union’s demands would put significant pressure on the low fares our customers rely on and force us to review our investments,” Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans said.

“If we accept an effective 15 per cent net increase in pay that the union is demanding, there will be significant upward pressure on the low fares our customers rely on.”

Passengers are being told they will be notified if their flight is disrupted, as long as their contact details are up to date.

Those affected will be able to change their flights or get a refund, the airline advises.

The following flights to and from Perth have been cancelled:

Saturday, December 14

JQ110 – Perth to Bali

JQ109 – Bali to Perth

Sunday, December 15

JQ109 – Bali to Perth

JQ110 – Perth to Bali

Keep up to date with the list here.

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