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Airport firefighters win right to strike over Christmas

written by Adam Thorn | November 16, 2022

Airport firefighters could strike over the Christmas holiday period after being granted a key extension by the Fair Work Commission.

The move has the potential to cause significant delays and cancellations for passengers during what is traditionally one of the busiest periods of the year for domestic aviation.

Earlier this month, the United Firefighters Union voted 93 per cent in favour of work stoppages between two and 12 hours, and also upheld a no-confidence motion in Airservices Australia.

However, the union this week won an extension to their window to hold the action until 1 January.


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.

UFU aviation branch secretary Wes Garrett told The Australian it was critical airports were fully staffed with firefighters at all times.

“Every day, hundreds of flights are operating from Australia’s airports without the aviation firefighting protection they need in accordance with international aviation safety regulation,” said Garrett.

“That means that the safety of thousands of air travellers is at risk, and that’s why aviation firefighters are calling for an urgent increase in staffing numbers and major reform to the management of aviation rescue and fire services across Australia.”

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.”

It 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.

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Comments (7)

  • Geoff Timms


    If they don’t like their job they should imagine themselves without it.

  • Ian


    ‘Blackmail’ in striking over a busy air travel time is always a tool used by these types’ of trade unions’.

    They’re disgraceful in this respect, willing to hold 1000’s of airline passengers’ for ransom, whilst they sit on their fat a$$€$, doing no work, for which they’d originally signed Contracts’.

    They’re the pits of humanity, & it’s to be hoped they don’t get want they want, as they’ll use it again, & again to get more, & more money.

  • Paul


    More greed? Just be grateful to receive something. Whatever you receive you are contributing to higher inflation and the potential for the RBA to raise interest rates again.
    Bet these guys have generous allowances for shift work already.

  • Alan Jones


    I will do your job Aviation Firefighters. I work 60-80 hours 6 days a week in the agricultural industry. If the crops fail I take a pay cut. I haven’t been able to sell my main produce for over 10 months. Some people don’t know when they have it good. Cause you are going to strike over Christmas for maximum impact. No one would care if I go on strike. No one would be impacted. Shame on you Unions.

    • MJ


      Pretty sure they’re recruiting so put your application in, you should get a good pay rise soon after joining!

  • Rozzi


    Please just give these hard working pet what that deserve! I couldn’t go home for Xmas last year because of covid – I need to be able to get on that flight this year! Me and many others after all we have endured. Please x

  • MJ


    Why shouldn’t they get a decent pay rise for once? The LNP government’s legislation enforced a maximum of 2% increases for years on end for Federal Government employees while real wages dropped against inflation. That of course didn’t apply to politicians who happily pocketed massive self-appointed pay rises whenever they felt like it. On top of that, last financial year Airservices gave about 15% of the workforce $250K+ early retirement incentives. The ones who didn’t qualify are now left to pick up the pieces of a poorly thought through plan and work ridiculous amounts of overtime to keep the stations open with no consideration given to the fact that these people actually want to spend sometime with their friends and families occasionally and have days off.

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