Jetstar officials are escalating their action against rolling staff strikes being carried out by baggage handlers, ground staff, and pilots amid a rapidly ugly pay and conditions dispute, with the latest bout of pushback set to see 10% of all flights in January cancelled, and even potentially a handful of company planes sold off.
Strike action began in earnest last week, with staff walking off the job amid claims of low pay and untenable conditions, with Transport Workers Union officials stating baggage handlers have been rolled onto contracts that only guarantee them as little as 20 hours of work per week.
This past weekend, Jetstar officials cancelled 110 services as a result of strike action being taken. Baggage handlers and ground staff at airports around the country walked off the job at various intervals on Friday, while pilots undertook stop work action on both Saturday and Sunday.
While the pilots union has stressed that no strike action will be undertaken between December 20th and January 3rd, more stop work action is expected beyond that with pay and conditions disputes not expected to end anytime soon.
In response to that, Jetstar officials are enacting the “strong contingency plans” they kept championing in the lead-up to the strikes. This time, those contingency plans involve “cancelling 10% of all flights in January,” and “threatening to sell off a few planes.”
Jetstar officials on Monday confirmed they had removed 10% of domestic services in January, in a bid to “avoid disrupting customers at short notice.”
Additionally, airline officials also confirmed they were taking the seemingly fairly drastic step of selling off three of its Boeing 787 aircraft as a means of offsetting the cost of the industrial action. The aircraft currently service “loss making and marginal” international routes, and a final decision on if the planes will be sold is due to be made by the end of Q1 2020.
Meanwhile, TWU officials have stated that the entire pay dispute could be settled with a pay increase of just 90 cents per hour.
In a statement issued a short time ago, TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine (that’s his name) returned serve at Jetstar, asserting “we are appalled that rather than even discussing what their offer is Jetstar are pulling the plug on passengers’ holiday plans. They are trying to strong-arm and bully their way into forcing low paid workers to continue enduring poverty wages.”
Kaine also asserted that “With the money Jetstar is spending on cancelling flights and upsetting holiday plans it could have solved this issue by now.”
Jetstar officials are contacting passengers on the cancelled flights to offer them “alternatives, including full refunds.”Image: Getty Images / Lisa Maree Williams