Qantas staff prepared for strike

Hotel News - 14/03/2011

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Australian carrier Qantas faces the risk of major industrial action. The biggest union representing staff at Qantas is planning to ballot more than a thousand of its members.

Workers handling check-in and customer service, as well as some operations staff are expected to vote on the union’s call for both strikes and work bans. The industrial action is planned for airports at Sydney and Melbourne.

The Australian Services Union has applied to Fair Work Australia to hold a ballot of members involved in the proposed action. The news was delivered by Ingrid Stitt, secretary of the union’s Victorian private sector branch.

Once the proposed action has been endorsed by union membership, the union will legally be allowed to take action. The development comes as pilots at Qantas also appear headed for industrial action of their own.

A spokesman for the airline said Qantas was eager to return to negotiations and avoid industrial action. He said the carrier would prefer the union return to talks instead of taking action that would affect passengers.

Ms Stitt said the Australian Services Union had been seeking improved job security and a five-per-cent increase in pay. She said the airline had offered very little after the union tabled its demands.

She said the anger of the union’s members had increased after Qantas reported a four-fold rise in its net profit last month. The strikes will target both domestic and international operations at Qantas. Meanwhile, leaders of Australia’s pilots union have been authorised to set a date to ballot its membership

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