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Airport firefighters to strike for 4 hours on Friday, 9 December

written by Adam Thorn | November 29, 2022

Airport firefighters have announced their first strike will take place between 6–10am on Friday, 9 December in a move likely to cause huge disruption for passengers.

The United Firefighters Union aviation secretary Wes Garrett said the union believes there “won’t be any aircraft moving” during those four hours.

Earlier this month, the United Firefighters Union voted 93 per cent in favour of work stoppages of between 2–12 hours, and also upheld a no-confidence motion in Airservices Australia. It then secured a crucial extension that meant industrial action could take place over the busy Christmas holiday period.

“Every day the lives of 2,500 air travellers across Australia are being put at risk because they don’t have the protection they need from understaffed aviation firefighters,” said Garrett.


“Air travellers don’t have the protection they need because (employer) Airservices cut 100 aviation firefighters from Australia’s airports to cut costs in October 2021.

“Now, every month, over 600 flights are operating from Australia’s airports without the aviation firefighting protection they require under international aviation safety regulation.”

The UFU is thought to be seeking a 15.5 per cent pay rise over three years as well as a commitment to hiring more staff.

Airservices Australia, the government-owned organisation responsible for airport rescue and firefighting, is offering an increase of 11.5 per cent.

Should a strike take place, it would mean local fire brigades would have to pick up the extra work — though some airlines could refuse to land at airports.

Airservices earlier said the UFU should “return to the negotiating table” and argued it had already made a “generous” offer to union members.

“Airservices will take all steps necessary to prevent disruptions to flights as a result of the industrial action,” it said.

“Our priority is to ensure the safe and efficient continuation of our services to keep Australian aviation moving.

“Airservices will continue to respond to the safety needs of airlines, airports and the travelling public.”

Further strikes have the potential to significantly damage Qantas’ plan to increase its domestic capacity over the holiday period to take advantage of surging demand.

Across the industry, the domestic industry peaked at 97 per cent pre-pandemic passenger numbers in June, but it came alongside all-time records for delays being broken that month and in April and July.

Since then, the industry has recruited thousands of extra staff and cut flights to improve the passenger experience.

The UFU’s announcement follows Dnata catering staff and Menzies ground handlers calling off a vote on industrial action after securing pay rises and job security protections in September. Dnata ground handlers also called off a planned 24-hour strike after securing an immediate 12.6 per cent pay rise.

Qantas cabin crew also voted almost unanimously in favour of strike action after being asked to work longer shifts and have shorter rest times.

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Comments (6)

  • Peter Gardiner


    Since RFFS is not a requirement for domestic operations it is only going to impact international flights. Certainly there are safety issues but they can be managed in the short term. Longer term, Airservices should staff the service appropriately, these costs will be passed onto operators & subsequently passengers with higher fares but that is the price we should be willing to pay to maintain the enviable safety record of aviation in this country.

  • Ron D


    Back to the bad old days.

  • Craig


    Let’s hope there’s not a serious incident whilst these blokes are sitting on their @$$e$, doing nothing.

    Disgraceful, & disgusting putting peoples’ lives at risk for the want of ‘30 pieces of silver’.

  • Ken W


    By the Union’s own admission – the public haven’t even realised that flights have not been covered since October 2021 – so it should be business as usual and the carriers should not delay flights as a result. Business as usual.

  • Paul


    Isn’t it called productivity. But union greed is also in play.
    We are back to the 70 and 80’s style of blackmail and holding innocent people to ransome. Sad.

  • MarkMyWords


    Unions, screwing everyone else over to ensure they have a reason to exist. Honestly, putting people’s lives at risk because you want 4% extra pay is a low act.

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