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Friday, June 9, 2023

Qantas Cabin Crew Threaten Christmas Travel Chaos After Voting in Favour of Strike Action

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In an ongoing pay and conditions dispute with the airline, Qantas domestic cabin crew has decisively voted in favor of strike action.

Although the cabin crew union hasn’t yet specified a strike date, it has warned travelers and the airline that a walkout might be timed to coincide with the Christmas and New Year vacations.

The union representing cabin crew reported on Thursday that 99 percent of those who participated in the poll supported a strike. Around 1,200 cabin crew members who work on domestic Qantas mainline aircraft are represented by the Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA).

“Our members have languished under expired agreements for several years while having to bear the burden of stand-downs and the COVID pandemic,” Teri O’Toole, the union’s federal secretary said on Thursday.

“Qantas is asking its loyal employees, who stood by the airline through its worst days, to take pay freezes and sub-inflation pay rises while demanding massive productivity gains,” O’Toole continued.

The union has previously expressed concern that Qantas’ proposed productivity measures would negatively affect the “already exhausted” cabin crew.

Qantas claims that workers who refuse to abide by its demands will be banned from flying on new planes in order to enforce contract revisions. In order to replace its aging fleet of Boeing 737s, Qantas has made a large order for Airbus A220 and A320 series aircraft, which will join the airline over the next 20 years.

The typical duty hours for cabin crew will increase from 9.5 hours to 12 hours and up to 14 hours during disruptions like poor weather or mechanical delays. Additionally, during interruption, their nocturnal rest periods might only last 10 hours.

The strike vote was deemed “very disappointing” by Qantas.

The airline claims to be offering domestic cabin crew a 3% pay increase, as well as bonuses worth up to $7,000 and up to 1,000 shares worth up to $6,000 in total.

According to Australian media, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week to urge him to modify proposed labor reforms that would result in wage increases for many Australians from the working class.

Qantas announced a record half-year profit of $1.35 billion and stated that robust travel demand had led to an increase in the projection of $150 million.

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