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Jetstar cancels 48 flights as workers prepare to strike

Right: A Jetstar plane in flight; Left: Cancelled Jetstar flights are displayed on a departures board at Sydney Domestic Airport on December 14, 2019 in Sydney during a pay dispute between the airline and the Transport Workers' Union. (Source: Getty)

Nearly 50 Jetstar flights will be cancelled on Wednesday 19 February as several flight staff go on strike for higher pay and better work conditions.

A 24-hour strike, led by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), will take place tomorrow at Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports that will disrupt customers’ travelling schedules.

More than 250 baggage handlers and ground crew are estimated to take part in the strike, according to TWU, although a Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that these figures would likely be higher than the actual turnout.

While international flights will not be affected, several domestic flights have been cancelled ahead of tomorrow’s strike.

Jetstar has revealed the 48 flights that will be cancelled on Wednesday 19 February:

  • JQ500     Melbourne to Sydney

  • JQ502  Melbourne to Sydney

  • JQ516  Melbourne to Sydney

  • JQ522  Melbourne to Sydney

  • JQ518  Melbourne to Sydney

  • JQ524  Melbourne to Sydney

  • JQ507     Sydney to Melbourne

  • JQ515  Sydney to Melbourne

  • JQ517  Sydney to Melbourne

  • JQ519  Sydney to Melbourne

  • JQ523  Sydney to Melbourne

  • JQ527  Sydney to Melbourne

  • JQ810     Sydney to Brisbane

  • JQ824  Sydney to Brisbane

  • JQ812  Sydney to Brisbane

  • JQ811     Brisbane to Sydney

  • JQ813     Brisbane to Sydney

  • JQ821     Brisbane to Sydney

  • JQ560     Melbourne to Brisbane

  • JQ566     Melbourne to Brisbane

  • JQ570     Melbourne to Brisbane

  • JQ563     Brisbane to Melbourne

  • JQ569     Brisbane to Melbourne

  • JQ567     Brisbane to Melbourne

  • JQ408     Sydney to Gold Coast

  • JQ406     Sydney to Gold Coast

  • JQ411     Gold Coast to Sydney

  • JQ409     Gold Coast to Sydney

  • JQ762     Sydney to Adelaide

  • JQ768     Sydney to Adelaide

  • JQ763     Adelaide to Sydney

  • JQ769     Adelaide to Sydney

  • JQ772     Melbourne to Adelaide

  • JQ776     Melbourne to Adelaide

  • JQ777     Adelaide to Melbourne

  • JQ773     Adelaide to Melbourne

  • JQ954     Sydney to Cairns

  • JQ946     Sydney to Cairns

  • JQ953     Cairns to Sydney

  • JQ949     Cairns to Sydney

  • JQ610     Avalon to Sydney

  • JQ609     Sydney to Avalon

  • JQ632     Avalon to Adelaide

  • JQ633     Adelaide to Avalon

  • JQ703     Melbourne to Hobart

  • JQ707     Melbourne to Hobart

  • JQ702     Hobart to Melbourne

  • JQ708     Hobart to Melbourne

My flight is going to be affected. What can I do?

A Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that contingent staff had been called in to cover for staff going on strike, but that some flights had been preemptively cancelled regardless. Here’s what you need to know:

If you’re travelling on the 19th but want to cancel your domestic flight, Jetstar will offer you a refund. “We understand this industrial action creates uncertainty, so if you are travelling with us on Wednesday 19 February 2020 and you want to cancel your flight and make other plans, you can request a refund by completing this form,” Jetstar said on its website.

If your flight is cancelled or delayed by more than three hours, Jetstar will offer you an alternate flight or a refund. If you have to be overnight or away from home, you'll be offered accommodation and meals to a specified value.

If your flight is rescheduled or cancelled, you can choose a new one without calling Jetstar. “Just follow the link in your email or SMS to our Recovery Portal and you can review your flight options.”

If you want to move your travel to another day between now and the 27th of February, Jetstar won’t charge you. You can do this via Jetstar’s Live Chat

You should also ensure your contact details are up to date, because Jetstar will be contacting you directly via SMS and email. A Jetstar spokesperson has confirmed with Yahoo Finance that the airline has been proactively reaching out to travellers.

Why are Jetstar workers going on strike?

Led by the TWU, Jetstar workers are pushing for higher pay, a more stable roster, and a safer workplace. According to a statement by TWU, some Jetstar workers are not given more than 20 hours of work a week and are paid below their actual level of experience.

Jetstar staff have been offered a “substandard” agreement “deliberately designed to keep Jetstar workers impoverished which will also allow the company to demote them without consultation, make it more difficult for workers to take personal leave and reduce redundancy payments,” the union has said.

TWU also claims that Jetstar workers will not receive a company bonus because of strike action in December.

“Workers are also concerned about safety and Jetstar has yet to comply with two improvement notices from SafeWork NSW related to dangerous understaffing and broken equipment,” the statement said.

“Workers are at risk of ‘serious injury’ from being ‘crushed’ and ‘ingested’ by aircraft, one notice said.”

As a result, Jetstar workers are demanding the same rate for doing the same job; regular hours of work; and improving workplace safety and security.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said Jetstar workers acknowledged that their strike action meant customers could not fly on Wednesday, but that the workers were in “the fight of their lives”.

“At the moment that future is bleak. The company is forcing underemployment onto these workers, making them desperate for more hours to boost their low incomes,” Kaine said.

“Jetstar workers are utterly baffled as to why they can’t get a guarantee for 30 hours a week when they can see that the work is there. It is obvious that management are behaving belligerently, attempting to bully these workers and leave them dangling for more work. Workers are given no option but to strike next week.”

‘Unforgivable’: Jetstar responds

However, Jetstar has rejected the claims of low pay, arguing that the low-cost airline has offered pay rises of 3 per cent, which is in line with the company’s approach that also applies to Qantas staff.

Jetstar group CEO Gareth Evans said TWU’s decision to disrupt air travel while tourism and the broader economy had taken a hit was “unforgivable”, and slammed the union as “out of touch”.

“We have put a package to the TWU and our people that includes a three per cent annual pay increase and a year’s worth of backpay for each employee as well as a range of other benefits related to rosters,” said Evans.

The package will provide annual wage increases “well above” wage growth in the private sector, while keeping fares low for customers, he argued.

According to Jetstar, TWU’s claims will equate to a 12 per cent increase in costs, including a 6 per cent rise in wages and superannuation.

“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.

“We will be doing everything possible to get our customers on their way with as little disruption as possible.”

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