A strike by baggage handlers of Qantas Airways, the national airline of Australia, resulted in long delays at major airports across Australia on March 30, 2009.Both domestic and international passengers were inconvenienced by the strike, Qantas Airways said in a statement, with long delays occurring at Adelaide Airport and other terminals in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.
Baggage handlers refused to work for 4 hours at airports in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in protest against a move by Qantas Airways to outsource work to contractors.
According to Qantas, passengers on outgoing domestic flights at AdelaideAirport got delayed for about 2 hours. Many passengers were told by the airline to fly first and that their checked-in luggage would follow.
Many international flights were delayed at airports in Sydney and Brisbane.
Qantas flights at the domestic airport in Brisbane were severely hit, media reports said.
The flights affected at Brisbane Airport’s international terminal included Eva Airways BR3 16, Qantas QF 15, Qantas QF 51, and Air New Zealand 136.
Baggage handlers, cleaners and caterers of Qantas Airways went on strike at 8.50 a.m. and passengers were seen disembarking their flights and leaving without their luggage, the newspaper Sydney Morning Herald reported.
At Sydney Airport, the Sydney Morning Herald report said, about 300 workers of Qantas Airways struck work, refusing to unload arriving planes but servicing aircraft due to leave.
During the strike, long lines of up to 50 passengers formed as they waited to get their luggage checked, the newspaper said, adding that, at some terminals, the passengers started piling their luggage in stacks after waiting for long periods to get through security checks.
The newspaper quoted Tony Sheldon, federal secretary of the Transport Workers Union, as saying that members of the union had “a number of concerns, including the outsourcing of more jobs and the failure to security-check airport staff.”
Sheldon added that the Transport Workers Union was demanding an independent audit of security throughout the Qantas Airways’ operations.
“The Transport Workers Union has been seeking assurances from Qantas Airways for a number of years over safety, and today we look at what action needs to be taken to create a safer environment for employees and the general public,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Tony Sheldon as elaborating.
However, a spokesman of Qantas Airways denied the union’s allegations and stressed that there were no grounds for the workers’ action and since they chose to strike work, “there are consequences for that sort of thing.”
David Epstein, spokesman of Qantas, told Sky News: “Clearly, this dispute is causing a lot of financial hurt to the airline and to our passengers. The law is quite simple: if people walk off in unauthorised industrial action, they don’t get paid for 4 hours.”
Epstein said that even temporary workers were compelled to carry an airline security identification card, which needed clearance from police and other security agencies.
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