26 Mar 2004

PNG flight attendants drop strike threat

1:42 pm on 26 March 2004

Air Niugini flight attendants in Papua New Guinea have called off strike action planned for today in favour of taking their grievances to arbitration.

About 100 members of the Air Niugini Flight Attendants' Association voted at the eleventh hour not to go ahead with a series of rolling stoppages in protest over working conditions.

The airline had put a contingency plan in place and had 13 former Australian flight attendants on standby in Brisbane and another 20 new recruits in Port Moresby.

The president of the flight attendants union, James Anjo, says he hopes their concerns will be dealt with by the Labour and Industrial Relations Department's arbitration tribunal next week.

"Majority of the flight attendants want to go back to arbitration rather than going on strike and you know and bringing a lot of problems in. We're a responsible union."

Mr Anjo says the airline is trying to enforce heavy crewing, or working for 16 hours at a stretch.

He says the company has withdrawn overnight allowances for staff because they refuse to work for more than 14 hours at a time, as specified in their award agreement.