Delays in Australian airports expected after strike

30 Mar 2009

Qantas baggage handlers, who went on a four-hour strike Monday morning, are now back to work, but it may take until this evening to untangle the delays caused by the disruption of normal operations in five Australian airports.

Major delays were experienced in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide airports as the baggage handlers walked off the job in protest over Qantas’ decision to outsource jobs to a cheaper company.

Both domestic and international passengers were forced to leave the affected airports without their bags upon arrival this morning, while bags at the check-in counters were piled high at the height of the strike.

One of the worst hit airports was Brisbane Airport, where the strike caused domestic flights to be at a near standstill.

At Sydney’s international terminal, 300 workers blocked a road leading to its entrance. The blockage has been removed.

A spokeswoman for Brisbane Airport Corporation said: "We're advising passengers who were intending to travel today through the airport to check with their airlines with the timing of their scheduled flights - and if they are coming to the airport please be patient.''

Alex Gallacher, spokesman of Australia’s Transport Workers Union, defended the workers’ actions.

“Workers have had enough. They work hard. They go to work in all weather, seven days a week, rain, hail or shine. But if you smack them in the ear and say, 'Look, righto, there's someone that's A$2 (US$1.39) an hour cheaper than you over there, and they've got your job, they're going to get very, very angry. And that's what's happening here,” he said.

Joshua Tan

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