Qantas flight crew strike sparks fears of Christmas travel chaos

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Qantas domestic flight crews have voted to hold a 24-hour strike in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Nearly all of the 1200 cabin crew employees voted in favour of the protected industrial action as they demand better pay and better working conditions.

All of the Qantas domestic flight crews will walk off the job for 24 hours some time in the coming month, which could cause travel chaos over the busy holiday season.

Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) vice-president Angela McManus said the action was a “last resort” after ongoing negotiations with Qantas stalled.

Camera IconQantas domestic cabin crews have voted to start taking strike action. John Feder/The Australian. Credit: News Corp Australia

“The timing was never planned to be before Christmas,” she told Channel 9’s Today show.

“The last thing we want to do is disrupt customers. It‘s not in our DNA.”

The union claims workers haven’t had a pay rise in three years after a pay freeze was implemented during Covid.

“On top of that, we have to work longer, harder and more hours,” Ms McManus said.

“We don’t consider it a fair deal, so we’re still at the table.”

A Qantas spokesperson said the company had proposed 3 per cent annual pay rises and access to more than $7000 in bonuses for flight crew staff.

“This is a very disappointing step by FAAA given we’re continuing to negotiate towards a new agreement,” the spokesperson said.

“They’ve said they’ll minimise the impact to customers of any industrial action and we’re urging them to stick to their word.”

FAAA federal secretary Teri O‘Toole said the proposed bonuses amounted to $11 a day over seven years for workers.

“All we are asking for is a fair deal and we are hoping that Qantas care enough about customers to bring to the table a fair and reasonable deal,” she said.

“I can tell you our flight attendants do not want people to be disrupted at Christmas.”

Teri O'Toole
Camera IconFlight Attendants Association of Australia federal secretary Teri O’Toole said the action had been looming for a long time. Adam Yip Credit: News Corp Australia

Qantas said the proposed shift changes were in line with the national standard for domestic airlines and overtime of up to 300 per cent would be paid for staff working more than their rostered hours.

The airline’s proposed agreement would extend shifts from 9.5 hours to 12 hours and reduce rest periods to 10 hours, which the union worries could increase fatigue.

“We want to keep doing the job we love, but we want to do it safely and so we’re not fatigued,” Ms McManus said.

The union will have four weeks to action their first strike, but it has not yet allocated a date.

The vote to strike comes after Qantas raised its profit forecast to $1.45bn for the first half of next year.

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