The TWU’s protected action ballot has closed with participating Virgin cabin crew voting 99% in favour of 24-hour stoppages unless an agreement can be reached to improve pay, job security and work-life balance.
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.
The ballot received a 90% participation rate, with 99% voting yes to 24-hour stoppages, while the average across all possible actions including shorter stoppages and overtime bans was 98% in favour.
The PAB result means cabin crew have obtained rights under the Fair Work Act to take protected industrial action, pending a three-day notification to Virgin Australia. No decision has yet been made to trigger a strike, with a negotiation meeting being held today in which cabin crew hope Virgin will move closer to a resolution.
Virgin has refused to provide the full results of a staff morale survey to cabin crew, but admitted that satisfaction with working conditions and pay received one of the lowest scores, while work satisfaction would reportedly improve with work-life balance improvements to rosters and leave processes.
Two weeks ago, Virgin ground workers achieved a fair agreement offer that responded to crucial elements of a five-point claim put to Bain Capital by TWU members above and below the wing for respect, investment in the workforce and good, secure jobs.
Ground crew withdrew their protected action ballot as a result of better pay, more full-time jobs, higher hours for part-timers and a commitment to insource more ground handling work around the country.
Cabin crew and pilots remain locked in negotiations with a number of outstanding items on fairer, safer conditions still to resolve.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the PAB result puts the ball in Virgin’s court to come back to the table with a reasonable response to workers’ remaining concerns.
“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.
“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,” he said.