[Workplace minister makes tourism plea as Jetstar strike looms]


“Small businesses and regional areas that rely heavily on a strong domestic and international tourism market face further damage from any industrial action which disrupts travel and holiday plans,” Mr Porter said.The IR minister can apply to the FairWork Commission to halt protected industrial action that could cause significant economic harm, but there was no suggestion on Friday Mr Porter was preparing to do so.Jetstar ground crew and baggage handlers will walk off the job for 24 hours. Credit: Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said the airline would do “everything possible” to minimise disruptions from the strike, and expected to notify passengers on Monday if their flight was going to be cancelled.Passengers booked to travel on February 19 can now cancel their flight and receive a full refund, or move their booking to an earlier date at no extra cost.“The TWU’s decision to disrupt air travel at a time when local tourism and the economy is hurting is unforgivable,” Mr Evans said.TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said his members did not take the decision lightly and apologised to members of the public who will be grounded by the strike.Jetstar chief Gareth Evans labelled the move “unforgivable.” Credit: Dominic Lorrimer”But these workers are in the fight of their lives for a decent standard of living,” Mr Kaine said.The TWU says its members face “underemployment” and irregular hours and its key demands include a guaranteed minimum of 30 hours work each week, a 4 per cent wage increase, and a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts.LoadingMr Evans said the Qantas-owned airline had put forward an offer that includes a 3 per cent pay rise, including a year’s backpay, which was ahead of average private sector wage growth, as well as roster benefits. The airline says the TWU’s demands equates to a 12 per cent increase in labour costs.“We will not be putting a better offer on the table beyond this,” Mr Evans said.The TWU stand-off is just one of the industrial disputes raging at the Qantas group, as its workforce seeks to share more of the windfall from its drastically improved financial performance.Jetstar pilots also went on strike in December amid stalled wage negotiations, causing 90 cancellations and prompting the airline to proactively cancel 10 per cent of its flights through January.And Qantas ramped up pressure on its international pilot group on Thursday by threatening to hire a new workforce of pilots to fly its slated ultra-long haul flights to London and New York if they do not sign up to a new wage agreement.Qantas boss Alan Joyce is no stranger to playing hard ball with his highly unionised workforce, infamously grounding the entire Qantas fleet in 2011 to break an industrial deadlock.Most Viewed in BusinessLoading


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