The ongoing industrial action by Qantas workers looks like it will rumble on for several more weeks, after the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) rejected the airline’s latest settlement offer.
Around 3,800 Qantas baggage handlers, ground handlers, catering staff and other employees have been involved in a series of strikes at airports across Australia in recent months. The TWU is campaigning for better pay and conditions for its members, and assurances that the airline will not outsource jobs overseas.
Qantas said the latest failure to reach a settlement would mean that industrial action will go ahead on Friday 28 October, when a series of one-hour strikes will cause 66 flights to be delayed by up to 70 minutes, affecting 10,100 passengers.
Qantas Group Executive for Operations, Lyell Strambi said Qantas was disappointed with the TWU’s decision. “We have made the union our best offer but they are refusing to agree to it. We have made it clear that industrial action will not have any bearing on the outcome of negotiations,” Strambi said.
“We have tried extremely hard to do a deal and we made the union an offer that was well in excess of the recent agreement that the TWU reached with Virgin. We tried to compromise on a number of matters, however we just cannot agree to all of their demands. In particular, demands that would make Qantas less efficient and compromise our ability to compete effectively,” he added.
Qantas also denies claims that it is planning to offshore TWU jobs. “TWU members – baggage handlers, ground handlers and catering staff employed are in Australia. These roles will always be based in Australia,” Strambi said.
The airline added that it is meeting with its pilots’ union on Friday in an effort to reach a settlement. Talks with the Australian and International Pilots Association are likely to revolve around the union’s demand for pay parity between Qantas and Jetstar pilots – something Qantas has always said would be impossible to implement.