Qantas ground handlers strike on 12 September

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Qantas passengers flying internationally face disruption on Monday, 12 September, after Dnata ground handlers voted to strike for 24 hours.

The TWU revealed on Sunday morning that 96 per cent of those polled agreed to the move, which will see 350 employees across Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide airports stop working.

It comes after Qantas outsourced 2,000 in-house ground handling roles to third-party companies, including Dnata and Swissport last year.

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 last Monday and closed on Friday, 2 September. It could also potentially affect those travelling on Emirates and Etihad, which also utilise Dnata ground handlers.

The union’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, argued his members are facing a “downward spiral of wages and conditions” and are only guaranteed 20 hours per week.

“Ground handling is a highly-skilled job, but thousands of experienced workers have been forced out of the industry by Qantas’ illegal outsourcing and the Morrison Government refusing Dnata workers JobKeeper,” said Kaine. “Those that are left are scrambling to pick up the pieces for scraps.

“Qantas management’s strategy to dictate low wages and conditions from afar has turned once sought-after aviation careers into insecure jobs no one can afford to stay in. For many, it’s now a choice between going on strike for decent conditions or being forced to leave the industry.

“Workers understand the commercial pressure they’re under from Qantas, but Dnata and Menzies must act responsibly and come back to the table to settle a fair deal or risk losing more staff.

“We need to rebalance aviation towards good, secure jobs that keep skilled workers in the industry and ensure the safety of the travelling public. The Albanese government should act urgently to implement a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to establish fair standards across the industry.”

Dnata previously said in response its pay offer was “highly competitive”.

“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,” it said.

“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.”

The TWU also revealed Menzies workers in NSW and Victoria would apply to the Fair Work Commission to hold a separated protected action ballot.

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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