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Jetstar workers will strike for 24 hours next week over pay and conditions, which is likely to cause significant flight disruptions

James Hennessy
  • The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has announced Jetstar ground crew and baggage handlers will strike for 24 hours on Wednesday, February 19.
  • The union demands a guaranteed minimum of 30 hours work each week, as well as a 4% wage increase and a guarantee of a 12-hour break between shifts.
  • Jetstar argues the package it has offered workers is "well above private sector wage growth".
  • Visit Business Insider Australia's homepage for more stories.

Jetstar ground crew and baggage handlers are set to strike on Wednesday, February 19 over pay and conditions, in a move likely to cause significant disruption to flights.

In a statement on Friday morning, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) said over 250 workers from Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports would participate in the strike.

The 24-hour strike action is an escalation of industrial action at Jetstar, following limited work stoppages back in December which led to disruption of scheduled services.

The union demands a guaranteed minimum of 30 hours work each week, as well as a 4% wage increase and a guarantee of a 12-hour break between shifts.

Additionally, the TWU is demanding Jetstar comply with two improvement notices from SafeWork NSW, pertaining to understaffing and "broken" equipment. Those notices, issued in December, said workers at Sydney Airport were at risk of being crushed or ingested by planes due to the “frequent malfunctions" of a power unit.

“Jetstar workers do not take this decision lightly and we apologise to members of the public who will be unable to fly on Wednesday," said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine in a statement provided to Business Insider Australia.

"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."

In a statement following the union's announcement, Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans described the industrial action as "unforgivable".

“The TWU’s decision to disrupt air travel at a time when local tourism and the economy is hurting is unforgivable," Evans said. "It’s another example of how out of touch this union is."

For its part, Jetstar argues the package it has offered employees throughout a year of negotiations is "well above private sector wage growth" and in line with a 3% wage growth target across Jetstar and the Qantas Group more broadly.

“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," Evans said.

“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."

Customers who were planning to fly Jetstar on February 19 will be able to change their flights to another day, or get a refund.

The TWU plans on making further comments on the strike action on Friday afternoon.