Rivet refuellers prepare to strike claiming Qantas refusing to meet

Passenger airplane being refueled and loaded with cargo before the flight near the terminal in an airport at the sunset .

Rivet refuellers are set to walk off the job for 24 hours from 5pm on Wednesday at Melbourne airport for their second strike after more than a year of negotiations have failed to deliver a package with fair pay, entitlements, and roster certainty.

Here is a statement issued by the TWU:

The TWU will engage in crisis talks with Rivet this afternoon to see if an agreement can be reached.

Most of the work done by Rivet refuellers is for the Qantas group, for which the company is subcontracted by ExxonMobil. Both Qantas and ExxonMobil posted record profits earlier this year. Meanwhile, Rivet refuellers haven’t had a pay increase for three years.

Last month, Qantas refused a request from Rivet refuellers to meet to help resolve a fair enterprise agreement so that further protected industrial action could be avoided.

Last year, it was revealed in a Senate Inquiry that Qantas contracts out to 21 external companies and has set up 17 lower-paying subsidiaries for essential aviation jobs.

Contracting out enables the airline to dictate pay and conditions at arms-length through low-cost contracts.

The TWU also called for answers from Qantas on its input to an emailed threat from Rivet management that if protected industrial action was to proceed then “Rivet and its customers [i.e Qantas] will be forced to consider all options available.”

TWU Vic/Tas Branch Secretary Mike McNess said: “After more than a year of talks, including with the assistance of the Fair Work Commission, workers have been left little choice but to exercise their rights to protected industrial action to achieve fairer, safer working conditions.

“These workers perform a dangerous and essential job for airlines, namely the Qantas Group. We know that pressure from low-cost contracts makes it harder for workers to reach a fair and sustainable enterprise agreement, because the purse strings are being pulled from above.

“Qantas management knows it can exert commercial power to keep pay and conditions low, which is why it has pushed as many workers as possible outside of its business, including through illegal outsourcing. We need a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to rebalance aviation and prioritise good, secure jobs so we can get back to the reliable service Australians deserve.”

The 24-hour strike at Melbourne airport will commence at 5pm on Wednesday and will impact mostly Qantas, as well as freight companies Australia Air Express & DHL, and some international carriers.

In January, ExxonMobil posted a record $56 billion profit for 2022, while Qantas’ half-year profit before tax was a record $1.43 billion.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is set to take home a $24 million pay package for 2023 after his management team engaged in the largest case of illegal sackings in Australian history.

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