By Kylie Williams, AAP Newswire, Australia
The Fair Work Ombudsman claims Thai crew working on Jetstar's domestic routes are owed thousands of dollars in back pay and is taking the airline to the Federal Court to recover the money allegedly owed to them.
A spokeswoman for Jetstar said on Monday that while the airline did not use overseas crews on purely domestic flights, it did use a mix of overseas and Australian based crew on international flights.
She said workers were paid under the terms and conditions of the country in which they were employed.
"At issue is tag flying - an industry term used to describe an international flight that includes a stopover in more than one domestic city, such as Singapore-Darwin-Cairns," she said.
"Jetstar operates about 40 tag flights a week out of a total schedule of up to 3,000 flights. Tag flights are common industry practice worldwide."
In a statement lodged in the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday the Fair Work Ombudsman claimed that eight Thai crew working on Jetstar's domestic routes were owed thousands of dollars in back pay.
As well as seeking back pay, the ombudsman will ask the court to ban the practice of employing overseas workers at lower than Australian rates of pay and conditions.
"While litigation commenced today involves just eight foreign workers, subject to the findings of the court, the Fair Work Ombudsman may take further action for up to 300 international cabin crew rostered across Jetstar's domestic routes," the ombudsman said in a statement.
Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon said he welcomed the ombudsman's decision to take the matter to court.
"The steps that have been taken are welcome and it shows that no matter how big and powerful you are that you're not beyond the law," Mr Sheldon said.
The Australian and International Pilots' Association president Captain Barry Jackson said the case illustrated a dangerous culture of workplace management at the airline.
Along with Jetstar, the ombudsman's case involves two Asian recruitment firms part-owned by Jetstar's parent, Qantas.
Valuair Ltd and Thai company Tour East Ltd recruit cabin crew to work exclusively for Jetstar.
The ombudsman wants Valuair and Tour East to reimburse the eight Jetstar crew with more than $7,500 they are allegedly owed in back-pay.
It is also seeking penalties against Jetstar.
"The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Jetstar Airways was knowingly a party to underpayment contraventions," the ombudsman said.
"It alleges Jetstar rosters the foreign cabin crews on to its Australian domestic flights and is aware of the rates they are being paid."
The case has been listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Court in Sydney on August 17.