Employment contracts of some cabin crew working for budget airline Jetstar are more onerous than any under the Work Choices industrial relations regime, independent senator Nick Xenophon says.
Foreign-based crews employed by the Qantas-owned carrier were working under completely different conditions than those based in Australia, he said.
Flight attendants in Thailand are paid just $258 a month as a base salary, plus $7 for every hour they fly and allowances.
In April, five Thai-based crew members declined to staff a Sydney to Melbourne flight after becoming exhausted from a series of domestic and international flights.
However, Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan says rostered shifts only go up to 14 hours.
He says he’s disappointed Senator Xenophon has chosen to repeat claims being made in the media, rather than picking up the phone and talking to him.
He dismissed staff complaints as coming from “some people” who were unhappy with things going on in an airline that flew 3000 flights a week.
“Something’s not going to go completely to plan,” Mr Buchanan told ABC Radio.
XENOPHON WANTS REFORM
Senator Xenophon says it is vital that regulations are introduced to protect cabin crew whose contracts specify no limits on the hours they can be required to work.
“When cabin crew tell me that they are worried they won’t be able to function appropriately in the event of an emergency, then that’s a serious issue,” he told ABC Radio on Thursday.
The features of the Jetstar contract for overseas-based crew made the worst features of Work Choices “pale in comparison”.
“These are some pretty nasty contracts,” Senator Xenophon said, adding they were completely unacceptable from an Australian perspective.
Jetstar’s cabin crew employees are accusing the airline of ignoring their concerns about fatigue after being forced to work up to 20 hours straight.
Staff say exhaustion on long-haul flights is common and they have raised concerns with senior management numerous times.
At least 60 complaints have been raised internally, citing serious concerns over fatigue on just the Sydney-Darwin and Sydney-Perth routes alone, the ABC reported earlier.