DALLAS – Qantas (QF) domestic flight attendants have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in an ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions.
Although the Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) have not announced strike dates, passengers have been warned that the walkout could spark travel chaos over the Christmas and New Year period. FAAA federal secretary Teri O’Toole said that members wanted to avoid any disruption over the festive season.
“Cabin crew have worked through the pandemic, have dealt with unhappy passengers due to the issues with baggage, cancelled flights and all of the troubles Qantas has had – they have felt the brunt of this,” O’Toole said.
“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.”
“This should be a time of recognition for the hard work they’ve done, not punishment for the pandemic.”
Crew members are unhappy after the airline said that it would increase duty periods from the current maximum of 9.5 hours up to 12 hours. During disruption, this could increase to 14 hours. It could also cut overnight rest periods to 10 hours during disruption.
The union has said that it will use a “measured” approach to the strikes, potentially using the one-minute strike previously used by QF engineers during their negotiations with the airline. Other actions include a ban on overtime working and not carrying out boarding duties.
Qantas, meanwhile, has called the announcement a “very disappointing step” as negations between the airline and the FAAA are ongoing.
“The proposal we’ve put forward includes three per cent annual pay rises and access to more than AU$7000 in bonus payments,” a spokesperson for QF said. “Cabin crew are also in line to receive 1000 shares worth around AU$6000.”
‘”The shift length changes we’re asking for are the same that apply to crew working at other domestic airlines in Australia,” the airline added.
“The FAAA signed off these conditions as part of agreements for those airlines, but the union now claim they’re unreasonable. Crew will still have the same maximum hours over their roster period, and if they are rostered on to a longer shift, they’ll be compensated with overtime of up to 300 per cent. We want our existing crew to operate our new Airbus A321XLR when they arrive, and we’ll continue to negotiate towards that.”
The news comes just a day after the Australian flag carrier raised its first-half pre-tax profit outlook for the second time in six weeks. Qantas is now expected to make an underlying profit of between AU$1.35 and AU$1.45 billion (US$897-964 million) for the 2022/23 financial year.
Featured Image: Qantas’ domestic FA’s have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay and working conditions. Photo: Qantas.