Thousands of custom and quarantine workers at international airports across the country walked off the job today protesting about stalled pay negotiations.

The union leading the work stoppages has apologised to passengers for any delays but says it had no other choice.

Anna Angel reports.


Workers stopped for up to two hours at a time at international airports and major ports across the country.

Members of the Community and Public Sector Union have been locked in a Government pay dispute since enterprise agreements expired in June.

They say they did not want to resort to industrial action, but they’re fed up with stalled negotiations.

Bill Marklew, State Secretary Community and Public Sector Union: “This is a last resort for these guys. They’re totally frustrated, they’ve tried everything else.”

The Federal Government capped any pay rise at nine per cent over three years.

But the CPSU says this is just not enough.

The union says the offer doesn’t keep up with the rising cost of living, though it matches the Reserve bank’s inflation estimates.

They’re seeking a pay rise of four per cent per year.

Despite measures by Customs officials to minimise interruptions, thousands of passengers experienced delays throughout the day.

Even actor Hugh Jackman was caught up in the industrial action when coming into Sydney international airport from Los Angeles.

Hugh Jackman, Actor: “It wasn’t too bad. I thought it was going to be worse, but it wasn’t that bad.”

The union warns industrial action will continue if their demands are not met.

A Transport Workers Union stop work, directed at Qantas, is expected to cause further delays at major airports on Friday morning.

Olivia Worth, Qantas Spokesperson: “We’re very hopeful that they come back to the negotiating table because it simply makes it very difficult for passengers travelling.”

Qantas says the strike will disrupt the travels of school holiday makers and footy fans headed to the AFL and NRL grand finals.

Anna Angel, QUT News.