The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has defended handing over grocery vouchers to Jetstar workers who participated in strikes on Wednesday.
According to the Australian, Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans said the $100 grocery vouchers some union branches gave strikers was a sign of “desperation” by the union as it pushed a “broader agenda”.
However, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the vouchers were a small gesture to compensate for lost wages as a result of strike action.
“It is entirely normal for trade unions to support their members,” he said.
“To say a grocery voucher is an incentive to strike is ridiculous and does not reflect the enormity of what these workers are doing.
“It’s not an easy decision to stand up in your workplace and go on strike. Workers lost a day’s pay which for low paid workers will be a big hit to their incomes. But they believe it is worth taking this stand for them and their families’ futures.”
The union said around 250 Jetstar ground crew across the country walked off the job over a 24 hour period to protest low pay and unstable hours.
Jetstar cancelled around 50 flights to manage disruption.
Qantas reported a profit of $445 million today and increased revenues of 3.5 per cent. Announcing the airline’s half-year results, CEO Alan Joyce said Jetstar, which is a subsidiary of the airline, grew its ancillary revenue but faced challenges due to industrial action at one of its busiest times of year.
“Let me pause at this point to say that our position on wages is crystal clear,” he said.
“We’re offering 3 per cent a year, which is above inflation and above what most companies are offering. No amount of industrial action will change our stance, because we can’t afford to lose our discipline on costs.
“That would ultimately have a very negative impact on jobs, and the challenges facing all airlines right now underscores why.”
Kaine said Qantas’ treatment of its employees is unsustainable and would “ruin” the company in the long-term.
“Qantas doesn’t want an efficient, productive workforce. It wants an army of desperate people, utterly compliant and willing to accept dreadful conditions because all they can focus on is picking up more hours so they can support their families,” he said.
“This is not a way to run an airline which will have a long-term future, this is a way to ruin a company through inefficiencies and safety risks.”
According to a survey of Jetstar union members conducted by TWU, 80 per cent said they were injured at work and 80 per cent said they struggle to pay bills. 90 per cent said they wanted more hours and 45 per cent said they had contacted their banks to delay payments.
“Stress, pain, agony, relationships failure,” one worker commented in the survey, “Don’t wanna be with family because of the feeling too poor to do things with them. Can’t afford to be with them.”
“I have to work seven days a week just to get 38 hours a week. I work around 340 days a year just to support my family. I have a wife and a son which I barely see because of the six-day, 30-hour roster,” said another.