Qantas freight faces disruption during industrial action

TWU member to strike for four hours, with airline saying flights will be affected for two days

September 15, 2011

Qantas expects its freight arm to be affected if a four-hour strike goes ahead next Tuesday.

The airline, which has a significant road transport business, says the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has advised Qantas that up to 3,800 baggage handlers, ground staff, catering, freight and other transport employees strike for four hours from 5am on Tuesday and has also imposed bans that could affect flights for a 48-hour period.

The airline and the union traded accusations late yesterday, with Qantas Group Executive Olivia Wirth saying the TWU was "trying to run Qantas" and the union complaining of "stonewalling".

"The TWU is demanding significant pay increases and new restrictions on labour flexibility which would make Qantas less competitive and prevent us from responding to volatility in the aviation industry," Wirth says.

"These employees are already the highest paid in the Australian aviation industry and we are willing to offer reasonable pay increases but the latest demands from the union are unreasonable.

"We encourage the TWU to continue negotiations rather than going on strike."

The union says the protected industrial action was supported by 95 percent of its members in the company, adding that the stoppages will be accompanied by a range of administrative bans, including refusal to perform higher duties and paperwork bans.

"TWU members in ground crews, presentation staff and catering have been seeking certainty from management about new terms of pay, conditions and job security since the old enterprise bargaining agreement expired months ago," TWU lead negotiator Scott Connolly says.

"Qantas has become the airline it is and has weathered international financial storms and other hard times because of its staff, who have put up with enough.

"TWU members have been patient and negotiated in good faith. Qantas has however sought to frustrate every move to secure our members jobs and decent pay and conditions.

"TWU members will take this industrial action as Qantas has left them with no choice."

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