Virgin signs deal with ground staff, cabin threat looms

Virgin airlines could be facing a strike by cabin crew, after reaching a pay deal with ground staff.

Virgin airlines could be facing a strike by cabin crew, after reaching a pay deal with ground staff. Photo: Getty

Virgin Australia has struck a new pay deal with its ground workers, ending the looming threat of them taking industrial action.

But the airline isn’t in the clear from strikes just yet, with cabin crews to begin voting on a protected action ballot next week as key concerns go unaddressed.

The Transport Workers’ Union declared victory on Monday, claiming their agreement for ground staff brought fairer pay, more secure jobs, safer working conditions and a commitment to sourcing more handling jobs from within.

They say experienced workers, who took the biggest cut throughout the pandemic, are looking at a pay increase between eight and 20 per cent in the first year, before 6.5 per cent raises across the board in the next two.

“This is the premium enterprise agreement Virgin workers knew they needed to achieve from (owners) Bain Capital to correct pay and conditions and make jobs more secure after administration and pandemic sacrifices had left them struggling to make ends meet,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

“Workers are the backbone of an airline. Virgin’s commitment to insource more jobs is a stark contrast to the brutal, illegal outsourcing approach of its rival, Qantas.”

The in-principle deal has been endorsed by TWU delegates and still needs to be put to other members for a vote, but their protected action ballot has been withdrawn.

Cabin crew are set to start voting on their protected action ballot next Monday.

Staff have seen pay rises frozen in successive periods and are sick of missing their breaks, the TWU says.

“Cabin crew and pilots currently bargaining need urgent answers to outstanding issues such as fatiguing rosters,” Kaine said.

“All Virgin workers deserve to have certainty of fair pay and conditions before the busy festive period.”


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