Perth Airport staff walk off job for 24hrs

Perth Airport staff walk off job for 24hrs

AAP May 28, 2013 6:52PM

SECURITY screening staff at Perth domestic airport’s Qantas terminal have walked off the job after five of the employees were temporarily locked out of their workplace for attending a stop work meeting.

Some 80 staff, contracted by Qantas through MSS Security, unanimously voted to walk off the job for 24 hours, commencing at 3pm WST on Tuesday.

The decision came after the workers held a one-hour stop work meeting in a bid to secure a better pay deal, complaining they were not getting paid as much as their Melbourne counterparts.

MSS Security handed out letters saying the five employees would be locked out of work until June 12, United Voice assistant secretary Pat O’Donnell said.

One of the five was a union delegate and another was a woman who recently won a good service award.

Mr O’Donnell said the lock-out was an outrageous, excessive response to the meeting, which had been held during a shift changeover to minimise disruption.

“Certainly, it has escalated,” Mr O’Donnell told AAP.

All flights appeared to have gone ahead as scheduled during the meeting, but non-union workers with not much experience had been brought in to cover for the absentees, he said.

The walk-off coincided with a visit to Perth by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who earlier in the day said he was confident contingencies would allow screening to proceed without disruption.

Mr Joyce’s visit was to announce Qantas’ planned multi-million dollar investment in WA over the next 18 months, mainly driven by new contracts with the resources sector, which rival Virgin is now tapping through the recent $99 million takeover of regional airline Skywest.

“They’re announcing massive things here there and everywhere at the airport, and different routes that they’re putting on, and yet the people who matter most – who you would think would be their staff –
they’re treating them like this and locking them out for an excessive period of time,” Mr O’Donnell said.

“Certainly, it’s escalated,” Mr O’Donnell told AAP.

Mr O’Donnell said some of the fill-in security screening staff had less than a week’s experience.

“That does raise concerns about their ability to perform a job that is absolutely crucial to passenger safety,” he said.

Mr O’Donnell said members would decide on Wednesday whether to escalate the wage dispute.

MSS Security and Qantas were being sought for comment.

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