Strikes planned by workers who refuel planes at Melbourne Airport (MEL) could cause major disruptions for airlines, particularly Qantas.
Employees for Rivet, who refuel for Qantas international, domestic and QLink, have advised bosses of a 24-hour strike on March 8, 2023.
The workers are unhappy with the increase of workloads and responsibilities without pay and conditions keeping pace.
Qantas is the major airline client of Rivet, accounting for roughly 60% of Rivet’s refuelling work.
Yet despite Qantas reporting half-year profits, the workers refuelling Qantas planes haven’t received a pay increase for almost three years.
Negotiations have been going on for a year with no agreement found so far between the workers and Rivet.
“For a year, Rivet refuellers have tried to reach a fair agreement but have instead been faced with base wage freezes which impact their pay now and long into the future, said the Transport Workers Union (TWU) assistant branch secretary Mem Suleyman. “In the current cost-of-living crisis it is unacceptable to expect workers to pick up extra responsibilities and work harder, faster and longer to make ends meet.
Suleyman added: “These are workers in one of the most dangerous jobs in the airport, yet they are being pushed to the limit while pay and conditions fail to attract more workers to share the load.”
The TWU says that workers have been left with little choice but to strike.
“Although protected industrial action is always a last resort, these workers know it is the only option left to bring the company to a fair agreement,” explained Suleyman. “Rebuilding the aviation industry is going to require more investment in good, secure jobs, not executive bonuses or shareholder dividends at an airline wielding huge commercial power across our airports.”
News.co.au were reportedly told by Qantas there are no changes to flights out of Melbourne on Wednesday.
“Once we have more details from Rivet about the impact of the planned strike by their workers, we can put in place contingencies such as carrying additional fuel from other airports to minimise impacts to our customers,” the company said.
The 24-hour strike at Melbourne airport on March 8 will commence at 4:00am and impact mostly Qantas, as well as freight companies Australia Air Express, DHL and some international carriers.