Virgin signs deal with ground staff, cabin threat looms

Virgin Australia has struck a pay deal with its ground workers, ending the looming threat of industrial action.

But the airline isn’t in the clear from strikes just yet, with cabin crews to begin voting on a protected action ballot next week as key concerns go unaddressed.

The Transport Workers’ Union declared victory on Monday, claiming its agreement for ground staff brought fairer pay, more secure jobs and safer working conditions.

It said experienced workers, who took the biggest cut throughout the pandemic, are looking at a pay increase of between eight and 20 per cent in the first year, before 6.5 per cent raises across the board in the next two.

“This is the premium enterprise agreement Virgin workers knew they needed to achieve from (owners) 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,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

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

The in-principle deal has been endorsed by TWU delegates and still needs to be put to other members for a vote, but the protected action ballot has been withdrawn.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson said the airline was pleased the agreement was in place.

“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,” they told AAP.

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

Cabin crew will start voting on their protected action ballot next Monday.

Staff have seen pay rises frozen in successive periods and are sick of missing their breaks, the TWU says.

“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.”

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