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Virgin profit ‘tainted’ by workplace issues, says TWU

written by Jake Nelson | October 10, 2023

Image: Virgin Australia.

The TWU has welcomed Virgin Australia’s $129 million profit for FY23, but said it is “tainted” by a failure to credit workers.

The union’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, said the patience of Virgin staff currently involved in enterprise bargaining with the carrier is running out and that pilots are jumping ship for higher-paying jobs overseas while cabin and ground crews are taking on second jobs.

Kaine has called on Virgin to “held up its side of the bargain by recognising workers publicly, financially and by listening to their concerns”.

“This financial return was generated by workers for whom ‘under the pump’ is an understatement,” he said.

“Despite struggling on Award minimum pay rates, Virgin Australia ground crew and cabin crew have worked themselves to the bone servicing aircraft on skeleton staff, often missing breaks to get the job done. Pilot and cabin crew fatigue is through the roof, with inadequate rostering systems adding to the headache.


“With bargaining underway above and below the wing, it’s time to see these profits repaid to workers to compensate for their sacrifices and ensure they can work safely. The lowest-paid workers are struggling to get by, even seeking extra jobs to pay the bills. We need to see a meaningful rebalancing of wages and conditions to avoid further staff burnout and high turnover.

“Virgin Australia owners Bain Capital made commitments to workers when they took over the airline. Now it’s time to show those commitments weren’t just hot air, by responding to the reasonable five-point plan workers put to them in August.”

In July, the union said it wanted Bain to commit to addressing “cultural issues” that have caused “high turnover, absenteeism and disputation”; providing “good, secure jobs” for pilots, ground staff and cabin crew; continuing to invest in technology, fleet and workers to “maintain and grow safe, fair standards”; providing an annual $1,000 employee share scheme in conjunction with the IPO; and supporting the TWU campaign for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission.

In its statement announcing the full-year profit, Virgin noted that eligible frontline workers have received 6.5 per cent of their salaries in bonuses over 12 months, for a total of $26 million in bonuses paid to frontline staff in FY23, with all employees additionally receiving $1,000 travel credit per year.

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