Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew are set for a 24-hour strike over the Australian budget airline’s “best and final” employment proposal.
Jetstar is still determining how their services will be affected by Wednesday’s industrial action but chief executive Gareth Evans thinks there will be some cancellations.
“We believe that our international business will be fairly unaffected; we’re working through the implications for our domestic business,” he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
“The focus though of course is on our customers and very much minimising the disruption for those customers and getting them away on their journeys as quickly as possible.”
The Transport Workers’ Union’s previous demands included more rest breaks, a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts, guaranteed 30 hours a week and annual wage increases of four per cent.
The union has accused the airline of proposing an agreement “designed to keep Jetstar workers impoverished”.
The TWU on Friday said more than 250 workers would strike on February 19 at Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports.
“Jetstar workers do not take this decision lightly and we apologise to members of the public who will be unable to fly on Wednesday,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement on Friday.
“But these workers are in the fight of their lives for a decent standard of living, to be able to put food on the table and to ensure they and their kids have a future. At the moment that future is bleak.”
Jetstar workers went on strike twice in December.
Mr Evans said the “very fair” package on offer included a three per cent annual pay rise as well as back pay and other benefits around rostering and allowances.
He said the company’s “best and final offer” would go to a vote sometime next week.
“We believe this is a very, very fair package in the circumstances,” he said.
“The current rate of private-sector wage growth is about 2.4 per cent so this is well above that and well in excess of what most other businesses are offering.”
Mr Evans criticised the union for disrupting “tourism and aviation at a time when the tourism industry and the economy as a whole – small business, tourism- related businesses, small towns – are doing it very, very tough”.
Jetstar customers set to travel on February 19 would be provided with a full refund or flight reschedule if requested.
With close to 60 per cent of Jetstar workers affiliated to the TWU, any agreement would heavily rely on the union’s endorsement.