Fatigue, long hours, high staff turnover and unrealistic turn-around times are behind the push for a vote on protected industrial action by cabin crew at Virgin Australia, a union says.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) says the airline workers will apply for a protected action ballot on Monday in an effort to force management to listen to their concerns.
TWU national secretary Michael Caine said on Sunday the vote comes three weeks after ground crew at Virgin applied for and were granted a protected action ballot by the Fair Work Commission.
Fatigue, long hours, high staff turnover and unrealistic turn-around times are behind the push for a vote on protected industrial action by cabin crew at Virgin Australia, a union says
Mr Caine said staff at the carrier are fed up with missing breaks or having to take on second jobs due to successive freezes on pay rises, after their loyalty through the pandemic helped the airline back into profit.
‘Owners Bain Capital have not held up their end of the bargain to correct rock-bottom pay, improve work-life balance and fix unsafe rostering,’ he said.
The union said the push for a vote on industrial action was prompted after Virgin Australia management cancelled a recent meeting where they were due to respond to workers’ demands with an updated agreement offer.
However Virgin Australia said unions had accepted its request to move the meeting by three business days to ensure there was adequate time to review and respond to the most recent claim.
The TWU said workers insist under-staffing is leading to issues with in-flight safety, which could risk customer lives.
Mr Caine said employees at the airline were burning out.
‘Workers are utterly exhausted, with several cabin crew members reporting near-misses on their drive home from long shifts,’ he said.
‘We need to see a considerable shift in Virgin’s bargaining approach to ensure a fair, sustainable enterprise agreement offer and avoid last resort strikes.’
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said the current cabin crew agreement expired less than two weeks ago and the airline was bargaining in good faith with an intention to reach an amicable solution.
The TWU move to go to a ballot was a common part of the early process and Virgin Australia was looking forward to the next round of negotiations on November 15, the spokesperson said.
‘Virgin Australia remains confident that an amicable solution will be found,’ they said in a statement.
‘One that appropriately rewards our valued Cabin Crew and at the same time protects the underlying commercial resilience of Virgin Australia and the outstanding value and choice it provides every day to the Australian travelling public.’