July 1, 2024


Today, aircraft refuelers at Ampol began voting on protected industrial action rights after the company claimed keeping workers among the lowest paid was crucial for maintaining contracts with big airlines such as Qantas. 

This followed a Fair Work Commission (FWC) win last week, which approved the workers’ Protected Action Ballot (PAB) questions despite Ampol’s attempts to prevent it. The Australian petroleum company, which also exclusively serviced Virgin aircraft, failed to get the Commission to increase the notice period for work stoppages from three to seven days.

Over the past 18 months, Qantas posted $3.72 billion in underlying profit, while the four largest airports raked in $1.7 billion over the last financial year. 

The Australian union movement backed a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to hold airlines and airports to account and ensure aviation meets the needs of workers, passengers and the community.

A successful PAB result would extend Fair Work Act protections to all TWU members at Ampol, allowing potential strikes if a fair agreement isn’t reached. The ballot closes 2pm Friday, July 5, with results published shortly after.

Transport Workers Unions (TWU) members met with Ampol 10 times, with the company largely refusing claims and avoiding formal responses. A proposed agreement by Ampol was overwhelmingly rejected by members (64 no to 5 yes).

TWU NSW/QLD State Secretary Richard Olsen said strike action was a last resort, but Ampol’s continued refusal to meet workers’ demands had forced their hand.

“Ampol workers are bravely voting to get rights to take protected industrial action because of their shocking treatment from the company, all because of contract pressures from larger airlines like Qantas.”

“These workers want to remain in the industry but they literally can’t afford to see their wages and conditions go backwards any further.”

“Across our airports, workers are overworked and exhausted trying to get flights operating smoothly, but still struggling on wages that are barely above the legal minimum with no financial security.”

“The short-term, profit-driven obsession that has spread through aviation has led us to crisis point. The Albanese government should urgently establish a Safe and Secure Skies commission to set fair standards across the industry and ensure we’ve got highly-skilled and experienced workers from the baggage room all the way to the cockpit.”

The protected action ballot opened Monday and runs until Friday, July 5.

MEDIA CONTACT: Adam Jacobson – 0405 625 208 / adam.jacobson@twunsw.org.au


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