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Qantas flight attendants threaten to strike over Christmas

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Planned strike action from Qantas cabin crews over the Christmas period have been labeled “a last resort” by a union official.

The 24-hour industrial action in coming weeks could spark chaos for domestic flights over the holidays, but Flight Attendants Association of Australia vice president Angela McManus said staff just want to be listened to.

“The last thing we want to do is disrupt customers, it is not in our DNA,” she told Today.

Union representative Angela McManus told Today Qantas cabin crew strike action is a last resort and was never intentionally planned to be held over Christmas. (Today)

The union claims a two-year pay freeze due to COVID-19 has left them tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

The decision threatens to disrupt Christmas travel for millions of Australians, however the union has made no announcement of the proposed date for industrial action yet.

“At the time that we filed for the action negotiations had stalled,” McManus said.

“We only got the results the other day and we’ve got four weeks to act it.

“The timing was never planned to be before Christmas and we never said that we were going to implement all of the conditions that we’ve put into the ballot.”

The union said members want a pay increase and for proposed changes to working hours including fewer breaks to be scrapped.

A Qantas plane on the tarmac at Sydney Airport.
Qantas flight attendants are threatening to strike. (Oscar Coleman)

Qantas has slammed the announcement as a “very disappointing step” as negotiations for a new agreement continue.

“They’ve said they’ll minimize the impact to customers of any industrial action and we’re urging them to stick to their word,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

“The proposal we’ve put forward includes three per cent annual pay rises and access to more than $7,000 in bonus payments.

“Cabin crew are also in line to receive 1,000 shares worth around $6,000.”

Qantas planes on the tarmac.
Qantas cabin crew are calling for an increase in pay and better working conditions. (Kate Geraghty)

Qantas said the shift length changes it was asking for were the same that applied to crew working at other domestic airlines in Australia.

“Crew will still have the same maximum hours over their roster period, and if they are rostered on to a longer shift they’ll be compensated with overtime of up to 300 per cent,” the spokesperson said.

“We want our existing crew to operate our new Airbus A321XLR when they arrive and we’ll continue to negotiate towards that goal.”

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