Travellers are being warned to expect massive delays at three major airports next week as hundreds of airline industry workers are expected to strike.
More than 350 ground handlers from Dubai National Air Travel Agency (Dnata) will walk off the job for 24 hours on September 12.
The employees will be based across Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide airports.
The strikes will primarily impact international operations though knock-on effects are expected to hurt domestic travel.
Tasmanian senator Jackie Lambie told the Today Show on Monday the last thing the country needs is more strikes drawing out for a year.
“We can‘t afford to do that in the country,” she said.
“If you want a smooth transition out of Covid, then give them the wage they deserve to be paid and get on with it.”
Ms Lambie urged travellers not to direct their frustration at the ground handlers instead suggesting that the root cause of the problem was the outsourcing of jobs.
“We need to get back on our feet, so get back in the negotiating rooms,” she said.
Workers at both companies are pushing for more guaranteed hours for part-time workers and fair pay increases in their enterprise agreements.
Transport Worker’s Union (TWU) National Secretary Michael Caine said many employees are distressed over the their pay and conditions being threatened at a time when mass staff shortages are increasing the pressure at work.
“Dnata and Menzies ground workers are forced to pursue strike action for the first time because they can‘t afford to stay in this industry if the extreme downward spiral of wages and conditions continues,” he said.
Many Dnata workers are currently only guaranteed 20 hours per week, despite enormous understaffing and pressure on workers to get flights off the ground.
Mr Kaine stressed the risk of losing more airline workers at a time when the industry is struggling.
“Ground handling is a highly-skilled job, but thousands of experienced workers have been forced out of the industry by Qantas‘ illegal outsourcing and the Morrison Government refusing Dnata workers JobKeeper,” Mr Kaine said.
“Those that are left are scrambling to pick up the pieces for scraps.”
A Qantas spokesman told 9 News they have measures in place to deal with the worker shortages on September 12 and that the strike will be felt across the travel sector.
Originally published as Airport ground handlers to strike despite massive staff shortages