Over 1,000 Virgin Australia cabin crew have voted in favour of a 24-hour stoppage unless the carrier makes a suitable offer as the threat of industrial action looms likely.
“Virgin cabin crew are concerned the airline has held out on key job security provisions to protect cabin crew employees against work being outsourced to casuals or contractors, while fatiguing rosters remain unaddressed,” a media release from the Transport Workers Union (TWU), said.
The TWU’s protection action ballot saw a 90 per cent participation rate with 99 per cent voting yes to 24-hour stoppages.
The ballot means that cabin crew have now obtained rights under the Fair Work Act to give Virgin three days notice ahead of protected industrial action.
There has been no shortage of talks surrounding industrial action and Virgin’s staff in recent months and the carrier recently succumbed to the pressures from ground workers and upped pay by 20 per cent.
It would seem Virgin Australia cabin crew are next in line for a pay rise.
“Protected industrial action is always a last resort, but after three difficult years of wage freezes and punishing rosters to see Virgin roar back to profit, this vote shows that workers have reached the end of their tether,” national secretary, TWU, Michael Kaine, said.
“It’s time for owners Bain Capital to show workers their concerns are understood and fix key issues driving high turnover and chronically low morale. Hollow words from executives in virtual town halls when respect is not being shown in action at the table is adding insult to injury as the busiest time of year approaches.
“No one wants to see exhausted cabin crew servicing planes. Workers need reasonable rosters, decent hours, better work-life balance, and crucial job security guarantees.
“Virgin workers above and below the wing have put forward sensible proposals to ensure a strong future for the airline and its workforce. In ground handling, we have now seen a good response with a strong enterprise agreement offer. Cabin crew and pilots deserve the same fair treatment, and certainty of pay and conditions before the festive peak.”
A spokesperson for Virgin Australia told Travel Weekly, “We know the last few years have been tough on our people and that cost of living is a real problem for a lot of Australians right now.”
“We are acutely conscious of the challenges before our team, which is why we’ve put a substantial offer on the table which provides real relief.
“In the last financial year, Cabin Crew received a minimum of 9%-13% of their base salary through a combination of EA and Award driven wage increases, a 6% profit share payment, a discretionary $500 cost of living payment, and discretionary increases to allowance increases and bonuses. We also paid over $2 million in additional payments over Christmas 2022.
“Virgin Australia has made an offer to the FAAA and the TWU valued at $50 million over three years. This equates to nearly 40% of our first year profit in 11 years. It includes base salary increases of at least 15%. For some, the base salary will be up to 32% above Award minimum rates.
“The original claims from unions equated to a minimum 63% increase in the annual Cabin Crew cost base by the end of the 3 year agreement, including a 29% wage increase. It is disappointing the unions have yet to commit to any meaningful concessions to what are a patently excessive set of claims.
“We have not received notification of any industrial action and we will continue to work intensively with unions to resolve this dispute.”