27 September 2011 by Luke McCormick
Up to 3000 workers walked off the job in planned industrial action at airports across Australia today to protest at failed pay negotiations, causing delays of more than an hour for incoming passengers.
Customs officers at international terminals staged hour-long stoppages from 6am to 8am local time, with a third set for 7pm.
The protected action affected passengers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Cairns.
The strike action follows a stall in negotiations on a new pay deal for Australian Customs and Border Protection workers, after the previous agreement expired in June.
Sydney International Airport will suffer more strikes by customs workers on Thursday and Friday, along with Cairns Airport.
Qantas passengers will also be hit by another one-hour stoppage at 8am on Friday when 3,800 baggage handlers, ground staff and other Qantas employees will stop work at major airports in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Qantas Group spokeswoman Olivia Wirth said Qantas engineers will also strike for one hour in Sydney tomorrow afternoon and in Melbourne on Friday, in an action expected to cause delays for ‘several thousand' passengers.
"This is one of our busiest weekends of the year with tens of thousands of people travelling around Australia...the union knows this and they are trying to cause maximum disruptions to passengers," Wirth said.
Customs and Border Protection national director Roxanne Kelley said today more work stoppages were expected next week, but the union would give advance notice.
''At the moment all we know is that there is outages again planned for next week, and we're working to manage those as well,'' Ms Kelley told reporters in Canberra.
Ms Kelley said the agency was working with airlines to minimize disruption to flights, but it is anticipated that the staff shortages would result in delays.