Virgin cabin crew vote through enterprise agreement

written by Adam Thorn | April 30, 2021
Virgin Australia 7378FE departing YMML at sunset (Victor Pody)

Virgin cabin crew have overwhelmingly agreed on a new enterprise agreement with the airline, with 89 per cent of staff voting through the deal.

It follows five agreements approved by staff last year that were negotiated between the TWU and new chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka. Pilots are still yet to finalise new working terms.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the deal maintains standards on service and safety that passengers expect.

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“These standards, which include fair rates of pay and enforcement of provisions to ensure crew are rested and not fatigued, will ultimately help ensure Virgin’s future,” said Kaine.

“Virgin workers are to be commended for the tireless work they have put in to getting the airline back on its feet. They held Virgin’s new owners to account over promises made to keep a full service airline with regional and international arms.

“They will continue to hold them to account over commitments to getting Virgin back to its position as Australia’s strong second airline.

“Virgin has yet to conclude its enterprise agreements with its pilots. We urge Virgin to finalise this process and to give pilots the certainty they require about their futures.

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“Virgin’s future is far from certain with the pandemic continuing to play havoc with air travel and the disastrous vaccine rollout casting doubt on the resumption of normal travel into and around Australia.”

Friday’s announcement comes after Hrdlicka scored an early victory in her tenure as Virgin chief executive last year by securing a deal with four unions over working terms.

The agreement with the TWU, FAAA, ASU and ALAEA saw employees accept an 18-month to two-year pay freeze in exchange for a guarantee that no jobs will be outsourced.

The deal was seen as a coup for the former Jetstar boss given her notoriously bad relationship with unions over the years. Unions at one stage walked out of negotiations when rumours first emerged that former boss Paul Scurrah was to leave to be replaced by Hrdlicka.

The vote is also significant given the TWU is currently taking Virgin to the Fair Work Commission over its decision to stand down ground handlers it claims were only recently doing overtime.

Virgin said in response that even though 170 staff had been technically ‘stood down’, the majority are still working close to their normal full-time hours.

It comes as the government recently ended JobKeeper payments for those working in domestic aviation, though effectively continued it for Qantas employees working on international flights.

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