Dnata ground crew begin strike vote

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Dnata ground crew have begun voting on whether to take industrial action after failing to agree a deal on working terms.

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) said the current offer to its members amounted to a pay cut and added staff are currently under “enormous pressure from understaffing”. Dnata has responded by saying its pay deal is “highly competitive” and must ensure its overall operations are financially sustainable.

The move significantly comes after Qantas outsourced 2,000 in-house ground handling roles to third-party companies, including Dnata and Swissport.

The Federal Court twice ruled that decision breached the Fair Work Act, but crucially said those employees won’t be able to get their old jobs back and instead must accept compensation.

The vote on industrial action, including potential strikes, opened on Monday and will close on Friday, 2 September.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said, “Dnata workers are bravely voting to get rights to take protected industrial action because of their shocking treatment despite making huge sacrifices for this company.”

“They’ve gone from two years of being shut out of JobKeeper by the Morrison government to being pushed into an agreement with suppressed wages and part-time work with minimal guaranteed hours that’s caused a mass exodus in this industry.

“Since Qantas illegally sacked and outsourced this workforce, it’s pushed away its responsibility of directly bargaining with workers, and instead is using its massive commercial power to bully companies like Dnata into ultra-low-cost contracts creating a downward spiral of wages and conditions.”

“As a product of Qantas’ illegal conduct, Dnata has struggled to recruit and retain staff into low-paid, part-time and chronically understaffed roles. The proposed agreement would only worsen the problem.”

“These workers want to remain in the industry, but they literally can’t afford to see their wages and conditions go backwards any further. Across our airports, workers are overworked and exhausted trying to get flights operating smoothly, but still struggling on wages that are barely above the legal minimum with no financial security.”

Dnata said in response, “Despite the challenging business environment, we have been offering our staff a highly competitive pay proposal throughout the negotiations.

“We need to make sure that our operations are financially sustainable, and we can continue to invest in training, infrastructure and equipment to be able to deliver consistent quality and safe services across our operations.

“We continue to work with our employees and their bargaining representatives and engage with them in good faith to create a sustainable platform for our future operations, including a commitment to exploring opportunities to provide greater full-time employment for our workforce which we have communicated to union representatives.”

Any potential strike action would likely cause yet more disruption for passengers after figures recently released showed July was the worst month on record for poor performance, with just 54 per cent of flights departing on time.

It incredibly came after previous record lows were recorded in both June and April.

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