Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cargo May Face Delays as Freight and Passenger Services Disrupted

Short Strike Next Week to Have Knock On Effects
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – The planned withdrawal of labour next Tuesday by staff of freight and passenger air carrier Qantas should last only four hours yet the effects on flights, including the carriage of cargo, could be felt for up to two days according to local experts. The strike, planned to last from 7am to 11 am on the 20th September, may include up to 3,800 baggage handlers, ground, freight, transport and catering staff.

Feelings on both sides are running high as the industrial action approaches with Olivia Wirth, the airline’s Head of Corporate Affairs, accusing the unions of trying to run the company. In a statement she said:

“The Transport Workers Union (TWU) is demanding significant pay increases and new restrictions on labour flexibility which would make Qantas less competitive and prevent us from responding to volatility in the aviation industry. These employees are already the highest paid in the Australian aviation industry and we are willing to offer reasonable pay increases but the latest demands from the union are unreasonable. We encourage the TWU to continue negotiations rather than going on strike.”

For its part the TWU insist that the action is supported by all but 5% of its members and that the action on Tuesday will be extended to a work to rule dispute with staff limiting their activities to those they are contracted for and not assisting with any extended tasks such as processing documents. The union points out that it s members have supported Qantas through some difficult times and have had no success with the renegotiation of contracts since the expiry of the last wage and conditions bargaining agreement.

With both sides seemingly entrenched this dispute is set to linger on for some time.

Photo: Ground Services in Happier Times at Qantas.