Virgin Australia cabin crew apply to vote on strike action

Virgin Australia wants to allow small cats and dogs in the cabin under strict conditions.

Virgin Australia wants to allow small cats and dogs in the cabin under strict conditions. Photo: AAP

Fatigue, long hours, high staff turnover and unrealistic turn-around times are behind the push for a vote on protected industrial action by cabin crew at Virgin Australia.

The Transport Workers Union says the airline workers will apply for a protected action ballot on Monday in an effort to force management to listen to their concerns.

TWU national secretary Michael Caine said on Sunday the vote comes three weeks after ground crew at Virgin applied for and were granted a protected action ballot by the Fair Work Commission.

Caine said staff at the carrier are fed up with missing breaks or having to take on second jobs due to successive freezes on pay rises, after their loyalty through the pandemic helped the airline back into profit.

“Owners Bain Capital have not held up their end of the bargain to correct rock-bottom pay, improve work-life balance and fix unsafe rostering,” he said.

The union said the push for a vote on industrial action was prompted after Virgin Australia management cancelled a recent meeting where they were due to respond to workers’ demands with an updated agreement offer.

The TWU said workers insist under-staffing is leading to issues with in-flight safety, which could risk customer lives.

Caine said employees at the airline were burning out.

“Workers are utterly exhausted, with several cabin crew members reporting near-misses on their drive home from long shifts,” he said.

“We need to see a considerable shift in Virgin’s bargaining approach to ensure a fair, sustainable enterprise agreement offer and avoid last-resort strikes.”

TWU members have presented a five-point plan they say will improve pay rates, job security and staff retention.

The TWU is calling for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission, which it says could set appropriate aviation standards and rebalance the industry.


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