MELBOURNE, Australia – Jetstar workers have agreed with a pay deal following their strike action against the Australian airline that previously forced the company to ground some of its flights.
The agreement between the Australian budget airline and the low paid workers came after the industrial battle between the two parties, which has lasted for around a year long. The strike action of the airline workers has preceded the new round of strikes in dozens of flights in the airline last month. Eventually, the year-long industrial battle has forced the Australian airline to ground around 48 of its flights all over the country.
According to a statement from Jetstar, the recent pay deal that their workers have agreed into comes with a 12% pay increase in more than four years. The deal will also include improvements when it comes to allowances and rostering, according to the Australian budget airline.
Meanwhile, the enterprise agreement that the Jetstar workers have voted on came after the airline company made some threats. Previously, Jetsrat hs threatened that workers are not going to receive the rate increased owed to them from March 2019, if they vote against having a pay deal.
The issue has led to the Transport Workers Union blaming the airline company of threatening their low paid staffs.
Michael Kaine, the TWU National Secretary, has criticized the threats and the intimidation that the budget airline company is doing to get what they want. Mr. Kaine also commended the Jetstar workers who decided to stand up and take the industrial strike against the airline in December, and recently in February.
According to Mr. Kaine, it is not easy for the workforce to stand up, especially in their work setting, along with their coworkers, to say no to their manager. The Jetstar workers have done their pair for as long as they could, said Mr. Kaine. However, he added that for workers in the airline with low paying jobs, the possibility of not getting the money from the supposed rate increase that should have been imposed last year is too much to handle.
Mr. Kaine further said that these workers are not only paid with a minimum salary; there is also a lack in the number of hours these workers can utilize to earn money. With this, Mr. Kaine said that a lot of Australians working in the airline company lives paycheck to paycheck.
The TWU also extended its criticism from the airline company to the Federal Government for not being able to rein in the airline companies and airports to account for the poverty wages and underemployment in the aviation industry.
Mr. Kaine added that there are thousands of people working in airports which are currently underemployed, with some of them only have 60 working hours per month. Because of this, most workers were left scrambling to get extra work hours to help feed the household and pay off their house bills, he said.
He also said that all these low paying issues in workers are happening despite the four main airports in the country getting as much as $2.3 billion as revealed by the ACCC early this week. And in just six months, Qantas was able to reach around $771 million in profit as well.
Mr. Kaine explained that despite these significant issues, the Federal Government has remained passive, and allowing such criticism happens, especially during the time with the low wage growth and underemployment rate continues to drag the economy of Australia down.
Furthermore, TWU is also calling for Qantas airline to work alongside its workers, especially with the potential pandemic due to coronavirus looming over. Mr. Kain stated that it is critical and timely to end the apparent dictatorship that Qantas is exercising. He said that the airline company needs to work with its workforce, especially with the seemingly worsening situations regarding the coronavirus.
Mr. Kaine also said that the airline company would need to lean to the best assets it has, which is its workers. However, he said that it wouldn’t be possible if Qantas remains to be on the high horse and dictating its workforce and refuses any negotiation. He also said that there was even a worker who was slapped with a suspension after daring to speak concerns over the coronavirus. According to him, it was not a very productive way to deal with a crisis.
Meanwhile, airport workers have previously submitted their claims and demands to all major airports in the country. They are looking for the same rate for the same job, a secure work with regular working hours offered to them, and making their security and safety the main priority instead of focusing on tasks to bring out the lowest cost possible.
A statement from Jetstar explained that they are aware of the current issues that Jetsrat workers are trying to raise. However, Jetstar said that the pay deal starting from the expiration of the previous agreement, which was in May in 2019, was not a right of the workers but a negotiated benefit given to them instead.
The statement further explained that Jetstar workers were allowed to secure the benefits, and they were able to do so.
A Jetstar spokesperson said that they are delighted with the decision of their ground crew to agree with the backpay. From the statement, the budget airline company outlined the benefits that Jetstar workers will be able to get with the pay deal.
According to the statement, the recent agreement for a pay deal between the company and the Jetstar workers is designed to reward their workforce with a wage deal that is worth around two times the inflation rate. The company said that with the backpay, they could also maintain giving their customers the budget airline fares that the company is known.
Meanwhile, the airline company is yet to abide by the improvement notices that came from the SafeWork NSW. The two notices they received are in line with broken equipment and dangerous understaffing.
The industrial strike action taken by Jetstar workers started in December last year. It came after the TWU accused Australian budget airline of blackmailing Jetstar workers to agree with a deal designed to keep them impoverished.