Qantas: Cabin crew plan to strike against threat to working conditions

Qantas passengers are looking at even more travel disruptions, as 1500 of the airline’s cabin crew plan to strike from November.

The Flight Attendants Association of Australia said two groups of domestic cabin crew had filed applications in the Fair Work Commission to undertake work bans and strikes.

The earliest date for any action would be November 18.

It comes as the airline battles a series of complaints over staff shortages, flight cancellations and major delays caused by two security breaches in the space of a month.

FAAA national secretary Teri O’Toole said cabin crew were being threatened with outsourcing unless they signed a new enterprise agreement that would diminish working conditions.

“Qantas management is asking cabin crew to sacrifice safety to keep their jobs,” Ms O’Toole said.

“Thankfully, crew take their first responder responsibilities for passenger safety seriously and are calling out the dangers of this proposal for fatigue management and the devastating impact it can have for safety on aircraft.”

The shift extensions would result in a more than two- hour increase in working hours from 9.45 hours to 12 hours.

In the event of a disruption, staff could find themselves working up to 14 hours.

Rest periods between shifts would be reduced to 10 hours when flights are disrupted.

“Workers are already exhausted trying to keep up with demand on a skeleton workforce following cuts to crew numbers per flight and an overenthusiastic redundancy scheme to cull workers and cut costs despite Qantas being the largest recipient of JobKeeper payments,” Ms O’Toole said.

Industrial action may include doing unpaid work like reading safety briefs during paid shifts, which would cause delays to flight schedules, and stop-work actions.

“To force crew to work even longer and harder than they already are with no additional break between shifts would cause more to go off sick with fatigue, causing further disruption to an already chaotic Qantas flight schedule,” Ms O’Toole said.

“We implore Qantas to drop its attack on its essential cabin crew workforce and return to the bargaining table in good faith.”

A Qantas spokesman said the union’s grounds for applying for a protected action ballot were misleading, as negotiations were still under way.

“Our focus is on reaching agreement with our people. It’s not our plan to outsource this work,” he said.

The spokesman said the enterprise agreement would offer pay increases, the opportunity to secure thousands of dollars in incentives and an expansion of overtime payments.

“We’re going to keep negotiating in good faith on these agreements because we want our existing crew to operate the new aircraft when they arrive,” they said.

Cabin crew are the latest group of Qantas workers to threaten industrial action after licensed engineers and ground handling staff proposed strikes this year.

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