Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew are set to walk off the job for an entire 24 hours next week, amid a bitter pay and conditions dispute with management that grows uglier by the day.

Transport Workers Union officials confirmed this morning that staff will walk off the job for an entire 24 hour period this coming Wednesday, February 19th, as part of protected industrial action. In response, Jetstar management is expected to announce mass flight cancellations, throwing travel plans across the country into borderline bedlam.

The stop work action is set to affect Sydney, Melbourne Tullamarine, Melbourne Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns, and Adelaide airports, according to TWU officials.

Previous industrial action in December saw baggage and ground staff walk off the job for much shorter work-stoppages. That action saw Jetstar cancel 28 flights. A subsequent pilots strike saw a further 108 flights cancelled nationwide.

At the centre of the pay dispute is TWU’s charge that Jetstar management are forcing staff into underemployment by only guaranteeing 20 hours of work per week.

TWU and staff are demanding a minimum of 30 hours of rostered work per week for ground staff, as well as a 4% wage increase and a guaranteed minimum of 12-hours between shifts.

In a statement issued this morning, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine (editor’s note: real name) stated that Jetstar staff are “in the fight of their lives for a decent standard of living.”

The Victorian and Tasmanian arm of the TWU further stated that “after yet another stalling of negotiations, Jetstar workers have been left with no choice [but] to strike.”

Jetstar officials assert they are working to ensure “minimal” disruption to passengers who plan to travel next Wednesday. Those with flights booked for that day can either request a refund, or rebook on a different day at no charge.

Image: Getty Images / Lisa Maree Williams