Warning for Qantas travellers as 24-hour strike begins

Airline passengers in Melbourne are bracing for potential disruptions after airport workers walked off the job in a 24-hour strike.

Staff who refuel Qantas planes, as well as other international airlines and freight services including Australia Air Express and DHL, launched industrial action at 4am on Wednesday. It is expected to last until 4am on Thursday.

The Transport Workers’ Union (TMU) says employees at the Rivet Group are fighting for better pay and conditions, an argument they’ve been having for the past year, Nine News reports.

Qantas planes on the runway.
Rivet workers who refuel Qantas planes at Melbourne Airport have walked off the job for 24 hours. Source: AAP

Union calls on Qantas to back refuelling workers

In a letter from TMU acting branch secretary Mem Suleyman to Andrew David, Qantas’ CEO of domestic and international, the union called on the airline to meet with Rivet and workers amid the dispute, saying that Qantas could help with negotiations.

“Qantas has enjoyed a $1 billion half-year profit while workers refuelling Qantas planes have not received a pay increase for nearly three years,” Suleyman said.

“As Rivet’s major client, accounting for at least 60 percent of the work, Qantas has the ability and responsibility to dictate through its contracts with labour providers that workers refuelling its planes are receiving fair pay and safe working conditions.”

Qantas passengers lining up at Melbourne airport.
Qantas insists passengers won't be affected because the airline has contingency plans in place. Source: AAP

Qantas tells passengers to still turn up for flights

Qantas claims the strike won’t have any impact on travellers because it’s taken proactive steps to handle the crisis. That includes flying a spare A380 into Melbourne with maximum fuel on board to fuel up other aircraft throughout the day where necessary.

“Our operations team has done a great job of putting workarounds in place and at this stage we’re not expecting any material impact to our flights on Wednesday,” a spokesperson for the airline told Nine News.

While Nine News reported there were six cancelled Qantas flights at the Melbourne Airport this morning, it was unclear they were related to the industrial action.

Qantas is urging customers not to change their airport plans and to proceed as normal unless told otherwise by the airline.

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