Photo: Members of the Transport Workers Union marched at Sydney Airport as part of the strike action. (ABC News: Antoinette Collins)
Almost 50 Jetstar flights have been cancelled today, as ground staff and baggage handlers strike for 24 hours to back demands for changes to working conditions.
The walkout coincided with the release of a staff safety survey which the Transport Workers Union (TWU) claimed showed 80 per cent of Jetstar workers had been injured on the job.
In total 48 flights have been cancelled — more than a dozen of those between Sydney and Melbourne — with a full list on Jetstar's website.
The TWU said more than 250 Jetstar baggage handlers and ground crew would walk off the job at Sydney, Melbourne, Avalon, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide airports.
The airline said it was cancelling the flights to "minimise the disruption" caused by the action, and offered passengers refunds or the ability to shift their flight date for no additional cost.
International flights will not be affected.
The day-long strike is the latest step in an industrial dispute that has been going on since December, when flights were cancelled and dozens more disrupted ahead of Christmas.
Workers have already rallied at airports in Sydney and Melbourne, with more demonstrations expected throughout the day.
Jetstar has been locked in a dispute over proposed new enterprise agreements for both its ground crew and pilots.
The TWU, which represents ground staff such as baggage handlers, apologised on Friday for the action and said the workers did not make the decision lightly.
The union said 94 per cent of Jetstar workers voted in favour of taking industrial action in December, seeking a guaranteed minimum of 30 hours work a week, stable rosters, a commitment to engage Jetstar employees rather than labour hire workers and appropriate pay rates for workers who are continually performing higher duties.
Jetstar accuses union of 'strategy against airlines'
Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said the union was not interested in reaching a pay deal, accusing it of instead prosecuting an industrial campaign against the whole industry.
The airline has offered workers a pay rise of 3 per cent, and Mr Evans called the union's demand for a 12 per cent pay increase "ridiculous in the current circumstances".
"Frankly, this is part of their broader 2020 strategy against airlines and airports, and they're using our people as a pawn in this greater industrial action," he said.
Speaking about the release of the staff safety survey, TWU assistant secretary Michael Caine said one worker had said he was nearly killed when he was crushed between two baggage containers in the back hold of an aircraft.
"That worker went on to say there are many incidents that happen and continue to happen," he said.
Despite workers protesting at Sydney Airport, the Jetstar terminal was relatively quiet, with passengers informed several days ago of any potential changes to their flights.
"It's surprising because it's usually really busy, but I assume lots of flights have been cancelled," said a student heading to Townsville.
"Not a problem, 15-minute wait. Beautiful. All good," said one man travelling to Melbourne.
Affected passengers can find the relevant forms, or contact Jetstar to request a refund or change their flight, on the company's website.
Those stuck overnight away from home are being offered accommodation or meals to a limited value, the airline said.