VIRGIN AUSTRALIA: Cabin crew vote to be able to strike
Over 99% of the unionised portion of Virgin Australia cabin crew have just voted to be able to strike. Or, as it is known more formally, they run protected work stoppages as part of their negotiations for improved wages and conditions. Negotiations have apparently stalled.
However, if an agreement is reached between the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the airline beforehand, then action is unlikely to be taken. The TWU and Virgin are currently in meetings to sort out the wage deal.
The airline will be eager to settle any potential industrial disruption at this time of year. That’s partly because of the boom in Christmas travel. But also because the owners – Bain Capital are planning a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange, rumoured to be in the first half of 2024. They won’t want any industrial action to threaten that.
Virgin Australia has successfully negotiated agreements recently with ground staff and pilots. So I wouldn’t expect a Qantas-like shutdown of the airline. Some concessions will be made to resolve this quickly; now, the union has strike action in its back pocket.
Unions, in general, and those in the airline industry, have not been in a better bargaining position for years. With staff shortages and booming demand, they are in a prime position to negotiate better pay and conditions. Remember, they gave up a lot, particularly at Virgin Australia, to make sure the airlines survived. They will be looking to get back those concessions, plus a little more, I wager.