Virgin ground workers have succeeded in bringing the airline to the table on fairer pay, job security, safer conditions and a commitment to insource more ground handling jobs.
The in-principle deal has been endorsed by TWU delegates and will be put to members for a vote. While ground workers have withdrawn their protected action ballot, Virgin cabin crew will begin voting on protected industrial action next week as key concerns remain unaddressed.
The Virgin ground agreement offer corrects pay and conditions after pandemic sacrifices. It also responds to crucial elements of a five-point claim put to Bain Capital by Virgin ground crew, cabin crew and pilots for respect, investment in the workforce and good, secure jobs.
The deal includes the creation of more full-time positions, more hours for part-time workers, and a commitment to insource more ground handling jobs starting with Link Airways flights between Sydney and Canberra.
Virgin will re-establish its job classification structure after it collapsed when ground workers’ pay needed to be bumped up to Award minimum rates.
The correction to job classifications means experienced workers who sacrificed the most will receive the highest pay increases between 8-20% in the first year, followed by a universal 6.5% increase across the subsequent two years of the agreement.
Workplace safety will improve through commitments to introduce an extreme weather policy and roster team numbers to a safe standard, as well as correcting poverty pay that had led to workers juggling second or third jobs.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine congratulated Virgin ground workers on standing strong to make their jobs safer, fairer and more secure.
“This is the premium enterprise agreement Virgin workers knew they needed to achieve from Bain Capital to correct pay and conditions and make jobs more secure after administration and pandemic sacrifices had left them struggling to make ends meet.
“Workers are the backbone of an airline. Virgin’s commitment to insource more jobs is a stark contrast to the brutal, illegal outsourcing approach of its rival, Qantas.
“Good, secure jobs are the answer to rebuilding Virgin Australia and the aviation industry. This deal will encourage workers to remain with the airline, while increased part-time hours and full-time positions will assist with on-time performance.
“This is progress towards the sensible plan put to Bain Capital by Virgin workers. However, cabin crew and pilots currently bargaining need urgent answers to outstanding issues such as fatiguing rosters. All Virgin workers deserve to have certainty of fair pay and conditions before the busy festive period,” he said.
The TWU has called for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to rebalance and future-proof aviation through appropriate enforceable standards.