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Jetstar crew members claim exploitation -

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ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Jetstar Airlines has been accused of exploiting cabin crew tonight, demanding
they work 20-hour shifts, sometimes longer.

Current and former crew members of the Qantas-owned budget airline say the practice leaves them
extremely fatigued, compromising cabin safety.

And a clause in the contracts of the foreign-based workers says if they're sacked or break their
contracts they can be forced to pay back more than four months of their base wages.

This special report by Steve Cannane. Alison McClymont was the producer.

STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: At Sydney Airport, holidaymakers check in for Jetstar's afternoon flight
to Bali. It's a popular service for those escaping the southern Australian winter.

But for Jetstar crew, the flight to Denpasar is no trip to paradise.

'JAMES', FORMER JETSTAR FLIGHT ATTENDANT: You start at four in the afternoon and finish, back in
Sydney, seven the next morning. So it was horrible - I felt like a slave. I've had a couple of
times where I had delays on the Bali flight and that 14, 15-hour shift would turn into a 19-hour,
20-hour shift.

RICHARD WOODWARD, AUSTRALIAN & INTERNATIONAL PILOTS ASSOCIATION: Well the cabin crew are suffering
very badly because they don't have a regulated limit on how many hours they can do, particularly
the foreign crews, and so they're working the maximum hours.

For instance, they're doing Sydney-Bali and back - that's about a 17-hour night. That's very, very
fatiguing. The pilots fortunately have an industrial agreement and the upper limit of the Civil
Aviation Order agreement.

STEVE CANNANE: This practice of making Jetstar crews fly return shifts, rather than staying
overnight like pilots, was raised by Nick Xenophon in the Senate inquiry into airline safety
earlier this year.

NICK XENOPHON, INDEPENDENT SENATOR: When cabin crew tell me that if there's an emergency, they
don't think they'd be able to cope at the end of a 17 or 18 or 20-hour shift, then it really gives
you cause for concern.

STEVE CANNANE: And concerns about fatigue are not confined to Jetstar's international flights.

Lateline has obtained over 60 incident reports that show that at least 37 crew members have filed
complaints this year to Jetstar management about fatigue and exhaustion after flying the
Sydney-to-Perth and Sydney-to-Darwin routes.

They've also raised serious concerns about the cabin crews' ability to deal with emergencies.

JETSTAR FLIGHT ATTENDANT ONE (male voiceover): I believe that if there was an emergency situation,
crew would not be alert enough to respond accordingly.

JETSTAR FLIGHT ATTENDANT TWO (female voiceover): It is unsafe and I am concerned that it will only
be when something unfortunate happens that something will be done about this.

STEVE CANNANE: Flight attendants are also worried about their own safety after doing shifts that
cross from day into night into morning.

JETSTAR FLIGHT ATTENDANT THREE (male voiceover): I was afraid I might have a car accident on the
way home from duty.

JETSTAR FLIGHT ATTENDANT FOUR (female voiceover): Driving home after this duty is extremely
dangerous and I have found myself almost falling asleep at the wheel.

STEVE CANNANE: And while Jetstar is pushing its Australian-based crews hard, it's the foreign-based
crews who are under the most strain.

A third of Jetstar's staff are employed overseas.

Their Bangkok cabin crew are employed by a company called Tour East Thailand.

Lateline has obtained a copy of the employment contract for the Thai-based cabin crews.

It states that crew can work shifts up to 20 long. But as this contract shows, in effect there are
no limits to the hours they can be forced to work.

CABIN CREW EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT, TOUR EAST LTD (male voiceover): "The planned limit and operational
extensions may be extended by the employer."

STEVE CANNANE: This clause is not in any contracts for Jetstar's Australian-based crews.

NICK XENOPHON: Not only is a clause like that unconscionable, it just seems incredibly unsafe. How
will a crew be able to cope with an emergency if they've been required to work in excess of 20
hours in just one shift? It's something that doesn't apply to Australian cabin crew for good reason
and it shouldn't apply to foreign-based cabin crew who are doing work here in Australia.

STEVE CANNANE: Jetstar declined to be interviewed for this story, but in a statement tonight said
there are clear limitations on hours.

STATEMENT FROM JETSTAR (male voiceover): "Jetstar has clearly established duty limitations that are
consistently applied regardless of where our cabin crew are based."

STEVE CANNANE: Jetstar's Thai-based flight attendants get paid a base wage of AU$258 a month. Each
hour they fly, they get another $7 an hour, plus allowances. They don't get paid for sick leave and
have half the annual leave of their Australian colleagues.

While on annual leave, they get paid less than normal. That AU$7 an hour on top of their base wage,
becomes just $9 a day.

Annika, as she's asked to be called, says foreign-based cabin crew are under immense pressure.

'ANNIKA', JETSTAR FLIGHT ATTENDANT (female voiceover): Asian-based crew aren't unionised and
they're constantly threatened with the non-renewal of their contracts should they speak out about
anything to do with their jobs.

STEVE CANNANE: And there's an extraordinary financial disincentive not to speak out. If Thai-based
crew quit their jobs early or are sacked, they can be forced to pay back up to four and half months
of their base wage.

In its statement to Lateline, Jetstar also said:

STATEMENT FROM JETSTAR (male voiceover): "Some of our international cabin crew are required to pay
a bond as a compensation for investment in training, if a cabin crew member leaves within two years
of employment. This is a locally based arrangement that reflects the local market conditions ...".

STEVE CANNANE: On April 22nd, five Thai-based crew, exhausted from a series of domestic and
international flights, pulled out of a flight from Sydney and Melbourne, citing fatigue. They were
concerned they wouldn't be able to respond to an emergency situation, should one arise. In
response, they got this letter from their employer, Tour East Thailand, threatening them with the
sack.

TOUR EAST THAILAND (female voiceover): "Whilst illness, etc., is accepted by your employer, poor
time management is not ... TET requires from you an undertaking that you will not repeat these
behaviours in the workplace."

STEVE CANNANE: This letter castigated the crew members for causing damage to the reputation of
their employer, Tour East Thailand, who hire cabin crew for Jetstar. But Tour East Thailand is
unlikely to lose its contract with Jetstar. Qantas owns 37 per cent of Tour East Thailand.

NICK XENOPHON: On the face of it, it seems as though the Bangkok-based crew are being looked after
by an independent contractor at arm's length from Qantas, when in fact Qantas has an iron grip on
this company. It's a pretty mean and tricky set of operations and Qantas really needs to come clean
on this.

STEVE CANNANE: Jetstar cabin crew fear more and more flight attendants will be hired under this
model: foreign-based, subcontracted, with lower wages and poorer conditions.

ANNIKA (female voiceover): It's all about the money. It's about making as much money as they can.
We're constantly cutting corners and pushing the crew, as that's the only the area where we can
save.

STEVE CANNANE: Steve Cannane, Lateline.

ALI MOORE: In its statement to Lateline tonight, Jetstar said it has made considerable investment
in its fatigue management systems, and it says Jetstar is continuing to invest and build in this
important area, in line with a global best practice risk management approach, adding that Jetstar
continues to assess their operations in light of their fatigue management system that shows safety
is always the first priority.

The full statement and responses to specific questions will be posted on the Lateline website.