Good news for Christmas travellers

Virgin ground workers call off strike after agreeing to new deal with airline. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Morgan Sette

Virgin ground workers have cancelled their plans to strike over fairer pay and safer conditions after a deal was struck with the airline.

Members of the Transport Workers Union were due to vote on the proposed industrial action before they came to an in-principle agreement with Virgin on Monday afternoon.

The agreement offers to correct pay and conditions which were significantly impacted over the course of the Covid pandemic.

It includes the creation of more full-time positions, more hours for part-time workers and a commitment to use Virgin staff instead of outsourcing more ground handling jobs starting with the Link Airways flights between Sydney and Canberra.

Virgin ground workers have called off planned strikes after striking a new deal with the airline. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Morgan Sette

Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine praised workers for standing strong to make their jobs safer, fairer and more secure.

“This is the premium enterprise agreement Virgin workers knew they needed to achieve from Bain Capital to correct pay and conditions and make jobs more secure after administration and pandemic sacrifices had left them struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

Mr Kaine went on to praise Virgin for making strides to insource more jobs, rather than following in the footsteps of its major competitor.

“Virgin’s commitment to insource more jobs is a stark contrast to the brutal, illegal outsourcing approach of its rival, Qantas.”

Virgin will also reorganise their job classification structure to reflect the experience of senior workers who sacrificed pay during the pandemic.

Experienced workers will receive pay increases between 8 to 20 per cent in the first year of the new agreement.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine praised the Virgin for agreeing to insource more jobs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

They will then receive a universal 6.5 per cent pay increase for the next two years.

The union claims this will help to fix “pay poverty” which has forced some workers to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.

“This deal will encourage workers to remain with the airline, while increased part-time hours and full-time positions will assist with on-time performance,” Mr Kaine said.

An extreme weather policy will be introduced and rostering numbers will have to meet a safety standard as part of the new deal.

“Cabin crew and pilots currently bargaining need urgent answers to outstanding issues such as fatiguing rosters,” Mr Kaine said.

“All Virgin workers deserve to have certainty of fair pay and conditions before the busy festive period.”

TWU delegates endorsed the in-principle deal and members will vote on whether they support it.

The union is also calling for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to rebalance and future-proof aviation through appropriate enforceable standards.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson said the airline is “pleased to have reached an in-principle agreement” with the union over the ground handlers enterprise agreement.

“The overall cost of this agreement is in line with the agreements we have reached with other work groups, and include increases to base wages, skills progression adjustments, allowances and productivity improvements,” the spokesperson said.

“Virgin Australia has always been committed to bargaining in good faith with the TWU with an acknowledgment that each party is motivated by a genuine desire to deliver positive outcomes for Virgin Australia team members.”