Qantas strike off as Dnata ground handlers strike deal

Dnata ground handlers have called off next week’s 24-hour strike after securing an immediate 12.6 per cent pay rise.

The TWU said the deal also stopped “attempts to scale back overtime entitlements” and would amount to a 17 per cent pay increase over four years.

Workers had been due to strike on Monday in a move that would have caused huge disruption for Qantas international passengers, as well as those flying with Emirates and Etihad.

The Flying Kangaroo outsourced 2,000 in-house ground handling roles to third-party companies, including Dnata and Swissport last year.

While the Federal Court twice ruled that decision breached the Fair Work Act, it eventually decided those employees won’t be able to get their old jobs back and instead must accept compensation.

The TWU had argued that the subsequent deal struck between Qantas and Dnata led to worse working terms than ground handlers previously received while working directly for the airline.

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The union’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, said, “After more than two years of turmoil for Dnata workers denied JobKeeper, they’re thrilled to have locked in greater financial security and the possibility of converting casual and part-time roles to secure, full-time positions.

“It’s a relief for hardworking families that last resort strike action is no longer necessary. It shouldn’t be so hard for workers to achieve pay increases above bare minimums and job security.

“In Qantas’ supply chain, workers have had to take on a corporate dictatorship squeezing pay and conditions through commercial pressures after Qantas management illegally outsourced work.”

Dnata CEO Burt Sigsworth said, “Despite a challenging business environment, we were offering our staff a highly competitive wage outcome throughout the negotiations.

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“I thank each Dnata employee for their hard work, loyalty and relentless commitment to Dnata and our customers in these challenging times.

“We will continue to invest in engagement with our people and this is a continuation of our journey to elevate our employee value proposition and be an employer of choice in Australia.”

Dnata provides ground handling and cargo services to 30 airlines at six airports and employs 1,700 staff.

The business was controversially denied JobKeeper in 2020 because it’s owned by the Emirates Group, which is in turn run by the state government of Dubai. Foreign government ownership was one of many exemptions to the COVID-19 payments.

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