Qantas and Melbourne Airport bracing for 24-hour workers' strike
Workers responsible for refuelling Qantas planes at Melbourne Airport are set to strike for 24 hours on Wednesday as they seek a meeting with the airline and their employer, Rivet, amid an industrial dispute over pay and conditions.
However, Qantas said the strike won't have any impact on travellers, and said customers don't need to change their airport plans.
"Our operations team has done a great job of putting workarounds in place and at this stage we're not expecting any material impact to our flights on Wednesday," the airport said in a statement.
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According to Qantas, those workarounds include flying a spare plane to Sydney with its maximum fuel load and using it to refuel other aircraft there, and carrying extra fuel on flights into Melbourne.
The airline contracts ExxonMobil to provide fuel for Melbourne Airport flights, which in turn subcontracts refuelling to Rivet.
However, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) said Qantas has the sway to impact the industrial negotiations, and called on the airline to meet with Rivet and workers amid the dispute.
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"Qantas has enjoyed a $1 billion half-year profit while workers refuelling Qantas planes have not received a pay increase for nearly three years," the letter from TWU acting branch secretary Mem Suleyman to Andrew David, Qantas' CEO of domestic and international, read.
"As Rivet's major client, accounting for at least 60 per cent of the work, Qantas has the ability and responsibility to dictate through its contracts with labour providers that workers refuelling its planes are receiving fair pay and safe working conditions.
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"We are writing to call on you to urgently meet with Rivet and the elected worker bargaining committee to ensure workers receive a fair package that will ease their increasing workloads, including manageable rosters and certainty over hours, as well as fair provisions for overtime and being called in on a day off."
The refuellers' strike will begin at 4am on Wednesday and, according to the TWU, will mainly impact Qantas, freight airlines Australia Air Express and DHL, and some international carriers.
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