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Were Jetstar Ground Workers “Bribed” into Going On Strike with a $100 Grocery Voucher? Airline Accused of Briefing the Media

Were Jetstar Ground Workers “Bribed” into Going On Strike with a $100 Grocery Voucher? Airline Accused of Briefing the Media

The Australian Transport Workers Union (TWU) has accused Jetstar management of ‘briefing’ the media over the union’s decision to offer A$100 grocery voucher’s to ground workers who went on strike on Tuesday. Jetstar, the budget subsidiary of the Qantas Group, was forced to cancel nearly 50 flights as ground staff and baggage handlers staged a 24-hour walkout in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

The strike coincided with the release of a union survey that revealed nearly 80 per cent of Jetstar workers had been injured at work. Over 80 per cent of respondents said they had felt unsafe at work and 70 per cent said they had to operate “broken or faulty” equipment while working for Jetstar.

Photo Credit: Jetstar

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine described the survey results as “utterly shocking” saying it showed the “desperate situation Jetstar workers are in”.

“Workers are fearful of going to work because of the terrifying injuries they are forced to sustain. They can’t spend time with their families because of the constant chase they are in for more hours,” Kaine continued.

The alleged understaffing risked safety in the workplace according to 95 per cent of Jetstar employees surveyed, while 80 per cent said they had struggled to pay household bills because of low pay and a lack of rostered hours.

Kaine described Jetstar workers as living “without dignity and in desperation,” saying they were “ashamed of the poverty they have placed their families in.”

But Jetstar chief executive, Gareth Evans said on Tuesday that the Transport Workers Union is “completely out of touch on wages” and “needs to get in the real world,” over its demands for higher pay and improved working conditions.

Jetstar has offered a 3 per cent pay rise, 12-months worth of backpay and what it describes as “rostering benefits”. The airline said its offer is well above private sector growth and more than what many companies are offering. The ‘final offer’ was made in November 2019 and no talks have been held since

The TWU has demanded its workers get a guaranteed minimum of 30 hours of work a week and improved roster stability.

In response to allegations, the union was ‘bribing’ workers to down tools with the offer of an A$100 grocery voucher, a spokesperson for the TWU said it simply recognised the hardship that going on strike would cause its members and that it wanted to help them make up for the loss of earnings.

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