Travellers face chaos as more Jetstar strikes planned

JETSTAR baggage handlers and ground crew are set for a 24-hour strike over the Australian budget airline's current employment proposal.

Transport Workers' Union (TWU) previous demands included more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts, guaranteed 30 hours a week and annual wage increases of four per cent.

Jetstar's package doesn't meet those expectations and is in with the Qantas Group's three per cent pay increase offer.

Meanwhile, Qantas has told its pilots it will go outside the airline to find people willing to operate ultra-long haul flights if they do not agree on a pay deal.

Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew are set for a 24-hour strike over the Australian budget airline’s current employment proposal. Picture: AAP
Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew are set for a 24-hour strike over the Australian budget airline’s current employment proposal. Picture: AAP

The TWU said more than 250 Jetstar workers would strike on February 19 at Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports.

They accused Jetstar of proposing an employment agreement which was "designed to keep Jetstar workers impoverished".

"Jetstar workers do not take this decision lightly and we apologise to members of the public who will be unable to fly on Wednesday," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement on Friday.

"But these workers are in the fight of their lives for a decent standard of living, to be able to put food on the table and to ensure they and their kids have a future.

"At the moment that future is bleak."

Jetstar workers went on strike twice in December.

Jetstar baggage and ramp workers pictured on strike in December. Picture: Damian Shaw
Jetstar baggage and ramp workers pictured on strike in December. Picture: Damian Shaw

Jetstar Group chief executive Gareth Evans said in a statement that the company had made a number of concessions on backpay and rostering after more than a year of negotiations with the union.

"The deal delivers annual wage increases well above private sector wage growth and more than what most companies are offering," Mr Evans said.

"It also ensures we can keep offering the low fares our customers expect.

"The union keeps ignoring the fact that no part of Jetstar or the Qantas Group will do a wage deal more than three per cent."

Jetstar customers set to travel on February 19 would be provided with a full refund or flight reschedule if requested.

With close to 60 per cent of Jetstar workers affiliated to the TWU, any agreement would heavily rely on the union's endorsement.

Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said in a statement that the company had made a number of concessions on backpay and rostering after more than a year of negotiations with the union. Picture: AAP
Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said in a statement that the company had made a number of concessions on backpay and rostering after more than a year of negotiations with the union. Picture: AAP

DISPUTE OVER QANTAS' ULTRA-LONG HAUL FLIGHTS

It comes as Qantas International CEO Tina La Spina wrote to the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) saying the airline would not endorse a proposed pay deal for Project Sunrise flights.

The Project hopes to see flight's between Australia's east coast and destinations like London and New York.

Mr La Spina said Qantas required a decision from pilots so it could finalise an Airbus order and complete the Project Sunrise business case, according to The Australian.

"We have informed AIPA (and are now informing you) that if we are unable to secure a new long-haul agreement with our pilots that meets the Sunrise investment case within Airbus' time frame, we will be left with no viable alternative but to have Sunrise flying performed by a new employment entity that can provide the cost base we need for this important business opportunity," said Mr La Spina's letter to the pilots, according to The Australian.

"To be absolutely clear, this is not our preferred option. And we know that flagging this will not be well received by many of you. But we want to make sure you have all relevant information when you are weighing a decision on EBA10."

A new "employment entity" would likely include 400 pilots sourced from other airlines and overseas.

AIPA president Mark Sedgwick said the letter from Mr La Spina was "unfortunately characteristic of the long haul discussions".

"It shows how this business would apparently prefer ultimatums to building consensus at this critical juncture," Mr Sedgwick said.

"Project Sunrise involves multiple safety and regulatory issues that AIPA on behalf of pilots has been working through and will continue to do so in the interests of the travelling public."