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Flight delays loom as Virgin staff threaten stoppages

Virgin Australia cabin crew are planning 24-hour stoppages over the Christmas period.

Virgin Australia cabin crew are planning 24-hour stoppages over the Christmas period. Photo: AAP

Virgin Australia cabin crew will take strike action over the busy Christmas period unless the airline comes to the table with better pay and conditions.

Members from the Transport Workers’ Union on Monday voted 99 per cent in favour to start 24-hour stoppages unless a new agreement can be reached with the company.

Ninety-eight per cent of Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia members last week voted for the same protected industrial action.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said workers stuck by the company when it entered voluntary administration during the pandemic and yet they haven’t received the same support.

“The workforce is dog tired,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Tuesday.

“They need respect from the company – they need to treat them as an investment and not a cost.”

Workers want better pay and more work-life balance through improved rosters and leave processes.

The unions would meet Virgin on Friday to negotiate and see if the industrial action could be avoided, Kaine said.

If those discussions fell through, travellers were warned of headaches at airports over Christmas.

“Workers have emphatically said they’re willing to take industrial action – we don’t want that to happen,” Kaine said.

“The Australian community has had a tough time in aviation, as these workers have.

“The best thing to do is for the company to take the high road and not the Qantas low road and come to the negotiations on Friday with a reasonable package.”

A Virgin Australia spokesperson said the airline had put a substantial offer on the table, including a base salary increase of at least 15 per cent over three years.

The unions’ claims included a 29 per cent wage increase, which was excessive, the company said.

“We have not received notification of any industrial action and we will continue to work intensively with unions to resolve this dispute,” its statement read.

Federal Finance Minister Katy Gallagher urged the parties to resolve the issue.

“We would hope that industrial disputes could be resolved, there’s good negotiations and everything is done to avoid disruption to people on their Christmas travel,” she told the ABC.

– AAP

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