LONDON – An impending strike action by Qantas domestic flight attendants has thrown a shadow of doubt over travel plans for many Aussies over the Christmas period.
Last week over one thousand flight attendants on Qantas domestic operations voted in favour of a strike action over workplace conditions. The concerns relate to the demand for working longer shifts and being provided with shorter break times.
The motion put by the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia (FAAA) resulted in a 99% vote in favour of taking industrial action.
Whilst no specific dates have been disclosed for the potential strike action, it is understood that the proposed action could include rolling strikes of up to 24 hours duration, which has raised concerns for passengers travelling on Australian domestic flights across the Christmas holiday season.
The unrest centres around an enterprise agreement offered by the Australian national flag carrier which seeks to extend domestic cabin crew shift rosters from 9.5 hours to 12 hours. This could potentially be extended to 14 hours in the event of a disruption.
At the same time, the proposed agreement would see rest periods between shifts reduced to 10 hours. The FAAA has raised concerns of fatigue issues as a result of the proposed changes.
FAAA to minimise disruption
The Australian national broadcaster the ABC reports that the FAAA union has sought to reassure domestic passengers that any disruptions caused to festive season air travel would be minimised.
In a statement, the FAAA said that it “aims to take a measured approach to any industrial action that minimises disruption to the travelling public, especially over the upcoming Christmas holiday peak”.
Qantas currently has approximately 1,500 domestic and short-haul cabin crew, and any potential strike action would need to be advised giving three days’ notice.
Qantas on the defense
Responding to the news of the proposed cabin crew strike action, Qantas characterised the move as ‘very disappointing’.
The news of the impending strike action comes as a rocky year for the airline draws to a close. Mired by news of cultural problems, and a barrage of criticism from both customers and staff, the airline and its CEO Alan Joyce had dogged deflected attacks.
Qantas has sought to defend its operations and present a positive face; last week reporting the news that it has lifted its first-half profit forecast.
The carrier noted that it has raised profit projections twice in six weeks on the back of strong travel demand, claiming its debt was reducing faster than expected.
No date for strikes has been disclosed by the union so far, nor has a deadline for a return offer from Qantas been announced.