Qantas flights are getting back to normal after more than 4,000 baggage handlers and ground staff went on strike this morning.

It’s the first major action taken by the Transport Workers Union in their six month campaign to win better pay and conditions.

Pip Thompson reports.


Twenty eight flights were cancelled, many more were delayed, and more than 6,000 passengers were affected by the strike.

The workers were on strike for four hours from 7am this morning, as part of their continuing dispute with Qantas over job security, outsourcing of the workforce and pay conditions.

Qantas stopped TWU members from starting their shifts earlier this morning and others were stopped from going back to work before the official end of the strike.

Peter Seage, TWU Workers Delegate: “Our members are ready to go back to work at 10 O’clock, be on stie to start as soon as possible, but we’ve been refused that time and we’re not allowed to report to the door until 10 O’clock.”

A Qantas spokeswoman says the move was aimed at minimising disruptions to the passengers.

Olivia Wirth, Qantas spokeswoman: “Those workers will be paid for those two hours, however they haven’t been brought into the workforces. You can’t simply turn an airline off and on. It doesn’t work like that.”

The Transport Workers Union says workers want a 15 per cent pay rise over the next three years, job security, more superannuation, and the same rates for contract workers.

The workers are angry that the problem hasn’t been solved in earlier negotiations.

Darren Brown, TWU Official: “Qantas have refused to negotiate with the union, they’ve refused to negotiate with their workforce and we’ve been left with no option but to institute some industrial action this morning.”

The union says the pay claim is justified.

Paul Coco, TWU Workers Delegate: “Our CEO’s and executives have had pay rises in excess of 66 per cent. So it’s a slap in the face to the average worker.”

Transport workers negotiators and Qantas officials will meet tomorrow in a bid to end the simmering industrial action.

Pip Thompson, QUT News.