Two groups of Qantas flight attendants who work on domestic flights for the country’s national carrier have requested authorization from Australia’s workplace arbitrator to hold a ballot for a strike over allegations that the company is attempting to outsource work and subject flight attendants to risk over time.
In an effort to obtain the ability to organize a ballot for protected industrial action, the Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) said on Wednesday that it has submitted applications to the Fair Work Commission.
Teri O’Toole, the union’s federal secretary, claimed: “already exhausted” cabin crew are being asked to “sacrifice safety to keep their jobs” as part of a new enterprise deal that Qantas management is proposing.
O’Toole claims that Qantas is leveraging a long-awaited fleet renewal program to compel cabin employees to sign new contracts. New Airbus A220 and A320 series aircraft are expected to replace older aircraft in the Qantas domestic fleet over the course of the next 20 years, however, cabin personnel won’t be allowed to fly these aircraft unless they accept Qantas’ proposed contract.
“The Qantas deals would extend duty lengths, while at the same time reducing rest provisions, all while not even guaranteeing work on the new aircraft,” the FAAA warned in a statement.
“Cabin crew has raised concerns that the proposal would significantly impair their fatigue management,” the statement continued.
If permitted, industrial action might include a complete walkout or less drastic measures like cabin crew refusing to read safety briefs, which could still result in significant delays and disruptions across the Qantas network.
O’Toole says the cabin crew is “calling out the dangers of this proposal for fatigue management and the devastating impact it can have for safety on aircraft.”
The plans call for cabin crew to work up to 12 hours and possibly 14 hours during interruption, while the rest intervals between shifts could be cut to 10 hours.
“Qantas turned a deaf ear to the crew’s safety concerns and instead issued an ultimatum. This is not good faith bargaining, it’s bullying.”
With some of its overseas cabin workers, the airline is also attempting to renegotiate their contracts. Unless the cabin crew consented to significant changes to their working conditions, Qantas threatened to rip up an enterprise agreement.