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AIRPORTS: Firefighter strike action threatens to disrupt Australian airports

AIRPORTS: Firefighter strike action threatens to disrupt Australian airports

Airport firefighters represented by the United Firefighters Union have voted overwhelmingly (93%) in favour of taking industrial action, including stoppages impacting fights across Australia.

Airservices Australia, which provides 27 airports with services, thinks the union’s claim of staff shortages is being used misleadingly to justify the industrial action in a push for higher wages.

We should know next week after the union meets as to what, where and how long the proposed industrial action will be, but the expectation is the Christmas peak season will be chosen to heighten the effect of the strike, guaranteeing maximum disruption.

The dispute appears to really be over the quantum of a pay increase. Airservices Australia is going for 11.5%, and the union wants 15.5% over 3 years.

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Staff shortages, or at least the perception of them, seem to have tipped the balance of power away from airlines and associated industries into the hands of employees. Given the massive hike in airfares – I’m paying close to AU$600 for a one-way economy flight between Adelaide and Sydney next week, bought about a week out – an airfare that pre-COVID was less than half that, some of that cash deserves to end up in the hands of workers rather than the pockets of executives and shareholders, and I’m a Qantas shareholder.

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