Thai cabin crew allegedly underpaid on Jetstar domestic routes

28 May 2012

Note: All allegations made by the Fair Work Ombudsman in this case were dismissed by the Court.

Note: Reference to prosecution in this media release is a general reference to the FWO commencing proceedings for the imposition of civil penalties and should not be taken to be a reference to criminal proceedings.

Airline cabin crew recruited in Thailand are allegedly staffing domestic routes in Australia for Jetstar Airways for up to half the cost required to meet their minimum entitlements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman says the pay rate is unacceptable and is asking the Federal Court to ban the practice. It claims the Thai employees should be getting up to double the amount they are being paid.

While litigation commenced on Friday involves just eight foreign workers, subject to the findings of the Court, the Fair Work Ombudsman may take further action for up to 300 international cabin crew rostered across Jetstar’s domestic routes.

Facing Court is Singapore company Valuair Limited and Thai company Tour East (T.E.T.) Limited - companies which recruit cabin crew to work exclusively for Jetstar on both international and domestic flights.

Valuair and Tour East are part-owned by Qantas.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking to have Valuair and Tour East reimburse the eight more than $7500 it alleges they are owed in back-pay. It is also seeking penalties against Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd.

Court documents allege Tour East and Valuair pays its cabin crew proportionately for its Australian work up to half of what they are otherwise entitled.

But the Fair Work Ombudsman submits that whilst working on Jetstar’s Australian domestic flights, the crews are entitled to rates stipulated under the Aircraft Cabin Crew Award 2010.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Jetstar Airways was knowingly a party to underpayment contraventions. It alleges Jetstar rosters the foreign cabin crews onto its Australian domestic flights and is aware of the rates they are being paid.

Court documents allege that Jetstar’s contracts with Valuair and Tour East give the airline power to control matters including salary and performance reviews, rostering and duties of the foreign cabin crew.

Jetstar Airways was allegedly also centrally involved in interviewing and recruiting workers in Singapore and Thailand to become employees of Valuair and Tour East. Valuair and Tour East allegedly do not provide cabin crew to any other airline.

A directions hearing is listed for August 17.

The prosecution is in addition to separate legal action commenced in April against Australian companies Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd and Jetstar Group Pty Ltd and New Zealand entity Jetstar Airways Limited (Airline companies to face court over alleged breaches of workplace laws).

Employers and workers seeking advice or assistance can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's website at www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Infoline on 13 13 94.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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