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Australia’s Jetstar Accused of Using Low Paid Thailand-Based Cabin Crew on Domestic Flights

Australia’s Jetstar Accused of Using Low Paid Thailand-Based Cabin Crew on Domestic Flights

A few days ago we covered a story on a new issue affecting cabin crew called “interoperability” – essentially, the term explains a process in which an airline group could use the same cabin crew to work across a number of airline brands, crossing national boundaries.  Unions say the process could allow airlines to hire lower paid crew in countries with fewer employment rights – something they refer to as “social dumping”.

While slightly different, the Australian budget airline, Jetstar is now being accused of using Thailand-based cabin crew – even on domestic flights in Australia.  A spokesperson for Australia’s Transport Workers’ Union says the Thai cabin crew are “chronically fatigued, untrained workers”.

The accusations, which were first reported by ABC News, has even led the union’s Michael Kaine to call the situation a “deadly recipe”.  The broadcaster interviewed a member of Thai cabin crew who said he earns just $100 per week.

“For the Thai-based crew we can be rostered up to 17 hours and can be working up to 20 hours,” Pojchara Kosolchuenviji told ABC.

“There are safety concerns because of the fatigue, the crew should be fit at all times. It’s the crew that would help the passengers in an emergency”

Like many cabin crew around the world, Kosolchuenviji’s wages are bumped up by a number of different allowances.  In a statement, Jetstar said its Thai crew earn on average $2,600 a month – five times the average salary in Thailand they claim.

Kosolchuenviji agrees the salary is good by Thai standards – but the money doesn’t go far when crew have to spend so much time in Australia where the cost of living is much higher.  Thai crew are also not allowed any annual leave in their first year of service and are only given 10 days of holiday in their second year.

“We don’t need discrimination, we need a fair working place, we need enough money to live.”

Jetstar, which is owned by Australian flag-carrier Qantas, has come in for fierce criticism for using the Thai crew on flights between Asia and Australia.  There are now accusations that a new move to use Thai crew on a flight between Darwin and Adelaide could even be illegal.

The airline, however, says a tiny number of foreign crew are being used to operate domestic flights on so-called “tag” flights – where an international service connects onto a domestic flight.  A practice they say is perfectly legal.

Jetstar has also dismissed concerns that foreign crew receive substandard training, saying all cabin crew are trained to the same level.  A spokesperson also explained that Thai crew can expect to enjoy at least 8-days off every month and that pay and conditions are benchmarked against local standards.