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Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee
Pilot training, airline safety and the Transport Safety Investigation Amendment (Incident Reports) Bill 2010

CHAIR —Welcome. This is a public hearing and a Hansard transcript of the proceedings is being made. In giving evidence to the committee, witnesses are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence.

The committee prefers all evidence to be given in public but under the Senate’s resolutions witnesses have the right to request to be heard in private session. It is important that witnesses give the committee notice if they intend to give evidence in camera. If a witness objects to answering a question, the witness should state the ground upon which the objection is taken and the committee will determine whether to insist on an answer. Having regard to the ground which is claimed, if the committee determines to insist on an answer, a witness may request that the answer be given in camera. Such a request may be made at any other time. You have lodged submission No. 52 with the committee. Would you like to make any amendments or additions to that submission?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Yes, Chair. As to the opening paragraph of my written submission, I clarify that I am employed full-time by Jetstar. I have left that out.

CHAIR —Thank you very much. Do you wish to make an opening statement?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I do, if I may.

CHAIR —Please proceed, thank you very much.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Good afternoon, senators and esteemed colleagues. My name is Monique Neeteson-Lemkes and I am employed full-time by Jetstar as a domestic flight attendant. I have been in this role since 2006. Additionally, I have been a workplace delegate for the Flight Attendants Association of Australia for four years. I stress that I make this submission in my personal capacity, not on behalf of the Flight Attendants Association of Australia. I am here because I believe Jetstar uses unsafe rostering practices. These unsafe practices lead to fatigue, which in turn increases risk in the flights that many in this room travel on. I am here also because it seems my company does not listen. There are unanswered OSCARs, personal conversations are ignored and the list is very long. I am here to state in a protected environment my concerns. Jetstar have demonstrated numerous times that they take punitive action for those who raise concerns. The disinterest in our feedback means we have to elevate our concerns. This is why I am here today and I welcome this inquiry and my chance to correct that which is so dangerously broken.

CHAIR —Thank you very much. We will go to questions.

Senator XENOPHON —Ms Neeteson-Lemkes, thank you for your submission. You have set out in your submission a number of concerns about fatigue. But before we get to those, I received recently an email from the partner of a Jetstar flight attendant that raised a number of concerns and one of the concerns was that the sign-on time before flights has been reduced to fit in with longer duty periods. What do you know about that? The email went on to say the expectations from staff is that the flight attendants arrive to work 20 to 30 minutes earlier than sign-on to complete all their pre-flight duties in their own time so duty periods are not exceeded on longer duties. Does that ring a bell with you?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Not exactly as you have phrased it just then. The only circumstances where you would appear at or come to work a bit earlier than your sign-on are if you are doing your annual performance check and you get that done. Are you referring to reduced sign-ons where rest is reduced from the night before to meet requirements?

Senator XENOPHON —Signing-on time before flights though?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —There is a provision to reduce that, yes.

Senator XENOPHON —When you start at work at Jetstar is it now reduced in terms of sign-on time?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —No.

Senator XENOPHON —So effectively it is the same sign-on time as previously?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Yes.

Senator XENOPHON —Okay, that’s good. Did Jetstar cabin managers ever have the authority to stand-down staff if they felt they did not have the required knowledge during the pre-flight briefing?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Always, yes.

Senator XENOPHON —Is that still the case?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Yes.

Senator XENOPHON —So you are not aware that there is any company memo to require cabin managers to check with the pilot first. What is the process if a cabin manager feels they need to stand-down someone?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I do not work as a cabin manager but my understanding of the process is that if they deem a cabin crew member unfit or not up to speed on anything that they so deem—standards of operation and emergency procedures—they will give their concerns to the captain. But at the end of the day it is pretty much the cabin manager’s decision.

CHAIR —If I can ask a pretty dumb question, if you are qualified to be in the job how is it that you are not up to speed? You should not have the job.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —If I may elaborate on what I meant by not up to speed, I meant when you cannot answer a question with regards to cabin crew drill as speedily as you would be required to. Sometimes at five o’clock in the morning when they are signing on, cabin crew are not as alert when compared to a cabin crew member who would be signing on at one o’clock in the daytime.

CHAIR —Is that right? They would not work for me if that were the case.

Senator XENOPHON —Could we go to the issue in your submission where you said on the third page:

Whatever type of contract of employment we all share a common concern, fatigue.

Would you outline what concerns you and your colleagues have in relation to this? Before you do that, I know that you are here in a private capacity but you have been a workplace delegate for the Flight Attendants Association of Australia for four years and, most recently, a Jetstar team coordinator. What does it involve in being a Jetstar team coordinator?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —It is exactly the same as being a workplace delegate except I coordinate the team of union delegates.

Senator XENOPHON —Does that mean that you are the first port of call for many Jetstar flight attendants if they have got a concern or a complaint?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —That is correct.

Senator XENOPHON —How many Jetstar flight attendants come under your umbrella as a delegate?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —The ones that are under the same contract of employment as me. We are known as EBA crew.

Senator XENOPHON —How many would that be?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I would not have the number off-hand.

Senator XENOPHON —It is in the hundreds?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —That is correct.

CHAIR —If I could raise a point of order as to a procedural matter, are you okay if the media cameras are here?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Sure.

CHAIR —If you do not want them here we can do something.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —That is okay.

CHAIR —Is the committee happy? Okay, it is.

Senator XENOPHON —Ms Neeteson-Lemkes, you are here giving evidence to this Senate inquiry. Have you raised these concerns and have your colleagues raised these concerns with Jetstar management?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I personally have raised these concerns with my direct level of managers before and my professional peers have also.

Senator XENOPHON —And what has the response been?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —For me personally it was to manage my fatigue a little bit better, to take lots of vitamins and drink lots of water. My professional peers have pretty much received the same responses.

Senator XENOPHON —So you are saying that you did not get a satisfactory resolution to the fatigue issues?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Not in my personal opinion, no.

Senator XENOPHON —Can you outline some of the concerns? We have heard evidence earlier today about back of clock operations. Can you explain what your understanding is of those and what you have observed, both in terms of yourself and your peers, in relation to fatigue issues?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I operate out of Sydney. For back of clock flying we have two of them. It is a Sydney-Perth return or a Sydney-Darwin return. In winter they are rostered to start at 10 past eight pm and they fly right through till 6.30 the next morning. That is called back of clock flying. We are concerned about it because it is very hard and trying on the body. It is at that time of night when, no matter what you are taking or using as sustenance to try and stay awake whether it be Red Bull or not, you just cannot stay awake. You fight your eyes from falling asleep. You become very lethargic. I have noticed myself that when I hit around 5.00 am I am very slow in reaction, I feel quite disorientated and I feel quite agitated. I fight falling asleep, I feel restless and, upon completion of duty, my driving home is what I deem to be really dangerous. I have been pulled over twice by policemen who suspected me of being under the influence, because they explained to me that the rear end of my car looked like a fish tail. So they questioned me as to had I been drinking, what had I been doing and if I were under the influence of any prescription or recreational drugs—to which I answered no. It was upon explanation of what I had just done that they told me, ‘Please, next time maybe organise some transport home,’ and that driving in those circumstances given how I was feeling was actually quite dangerous to the travelling public.

Senator XENOPHON —But airlines have to operate and do back of clock operations. They have to do overnight flights, particularly on the Sydney-Perth-Sydney, Sydney-Darwin-Sydney and east coast to west coast legs. Is it a question that you do not have enough of a break in between the flights? What is the position there?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I personally feel we do not have appropriate rest areas, or adequate rest on the aircraft. We are allowed to rest our eyes, which means we have to sit upright and rest our eyes. We are not allowed to fall asleep, and our rest area is allocated outside the lavatories onboard the aircraft, usually in row 30. If passenger loads allow, we might be lucky and have row 29 and 30, and that is a bonus for flight attendants. We try to make do with what we have to make it as comfortable a rest area as we can when we are operating on the back of the clock, which sometimes means pulling the curtain across the overhead lockers to block the light out while we try to rest our eyes.

Senator XENOPHON —Are you aware of any instances where some of your colleagues have had accidents—you referred to that in your submission—driving home from work. What is your understanding of that?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —There were two personal friends involved in accidents. One was a flight attendant who was driving home after a back of the clock who had a severe motor vehicle accident and was off work for roughly eight months. That was after a Brisbane back of the clock. There have been other accidents. One was after a run of shifts and the back of the clock was the last shift. The other one was just after a massively long duty that was rostered to him during the day. All three people were close friends of mine. Two of those cars were written off, completely. The first lady I was referring to had eight months off work and has permanent back injuries.

Senator XENOPHON —Is any form of transport supplied—cabs or mini buses? What is put on for the crew?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —If a flight attendant expresses concerns for their own wellbeing and safety, and if they feel fatigued, they have the option of calling up crewing, which is our dispatch, and express those concerns, and transport will be organised for you. That consists of one-way travel. So you finish your duty at the airport in Sydney. I would request transport. I would get a minibus that would bring me home but that would mean that my car would still be parked at the long-term car park at work. The next day I have to travel back to work to pick up my car. Some of us do not take that option because some of us live in Wollongong. If you get transport one-way, and get one day off until your next rostered shift, to make your own way back is out of the question.

Senator HEFFERNAN —In this back of the clock you say you get off and you are probably not fit to drive the car. Are there some people who have worked the same shift as you and feel like a game of squash? Are there people who can deal with those hours, to your knowledge? Is it a physiological thing?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I have never met anyone who feels like a game of squash after a back of the clock, or feel fit or great. Everyone expresses the same concerns that I do.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Is there any guidance to you as a crew member that you should have eight hours sleep in the previous 10 hours before you go on a back of the clock shift? That could be a bit of a pain if it is in the middle of the day in summer. What is the requirement of the pre-work period? You might be out at the football—or you might be home in bed. Does that make any difference?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —We personally think that it would make a difference, but the company does not have a requirement nor do they teach us how to rest before a certain type of duty.

Senator HEFFERNAN —I do not know how they would enforce it, but should they?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I’ll take that on notice for now, and get back to you with an answer.

Senator XENOPHON —When you were trained, how many weeks training did you do before you became a flight attendant?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Six weeks.

Senator XENOPHON —And what is the level of training now?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I believe it is 15 days.

Senator XENOPHON —In your opinion, is there a difference between those flight attendants who have had the six-week course and those who have had the three-week course?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Yes, there is. When I did the six-week course I was endorsed on one aircraft type, which was the Airbus A320. The crew that currently join Jetstar now are endorsed on both the Airbus A320 and A321.

Senator XENOPHON —But the period of training is less, isn’t it?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —That is correct.

Senator XENOPHON —Do you think it makes a difference if there is less training?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Most definitely.

Senator XENOPHON —In what ways?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —In terms of experience, safety, the crew actually feeling confident in what they are doing onboard the aircraft and the impact it has on the fellow operating crew who have been there longer than the newly joining ones.

Senator XENOPHON —How big an issue is fatigue? Is it the most common complaint among flight attendants? Is that the biggest safety concern?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —The biggest safety concerns to date, in my opinion, are fatigue and the training of the new flight attendants and the impact that the training they have had has on the existing flight attendants.

Senator XENOPHON —Is the issue of fatigue one that you have raised with your union, the FAAA?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Have I personally?

Senator XENOPHON —Or has the issue of fatigue been raised with the FAAA?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I am unable to speak on behalf of the FAAA today.

Senator XENOPHON —No, I know you cannot speak on behalf of the FAAA, but is this something the FAAA would hear about from flight attendants on a regular basis?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I would not say on a regular basis. Cabin crew are quite fearful of using the word fatigue. They know that Jetstar offers—maybe threatens is a better word—fatigue management should they express concerns that they are fatigued.

Senator XENOPHON —What does fatigue management mean?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —It is where you sit down with your direct manager or whomever they nominate, tell them why you feel fatigued—what you are experiencing, why you have reported yourself as being fatigued—and try to come to a resolution or solution for how to fix it.

Senator XENOPHON —So if you complain about being fatigued you have to have a meeting with management. Can your roster be changed?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —No, your roster cannot be changed due to fatigue. It can be changed personally—you would have to call in sick for work—it would not be changed because you expressed concerns about being fatigued.

Senator XENOPHON —Have you had to have a sit-down meeting with them over fatigue management?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —No.

Senator XENOPHON —Why is that?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Because when I feel fatigued I take a sick day.

Senator XENOPHON —So it comes off your sick leave.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct.

Senator XENOPHON —And what do your colleagues do?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Some have voiced their concerns but have come out on the end scale of things after voicing their concerns, so most of my colleagues just take a sick day when they deem themselves unfit to operate.

Senator XENOPHON —Right. To go to the issue of the culture there, you have operational safety company advisory reports, or OSCARs. They are filled out on a regular basis?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct.

Senator XENOPHON —Have flight attendants gone to CASA, the regulator, in relation to these issues of fatigue? What is your understanding of that?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I personally know of circumstances where flight attendants have de-identified some things and sent them to CASA because they feel they have no other option.

Senator XENOPHON —And how long ago was that?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Some relate back to as recently as last week. Some stem back as far as a year ago. From what I can see, not much has really been done.

CHAIR —In terms of this fatigue, is it the period of the shift, as it were, which can be gruelling and have cranky blokes like me as passengers et cetera—

Senator XENOPHON —I cannot imagine you being cranky!

CHAIR —or like if you have a sick baby or child at home and things have gone wrong? Is it a balance between one and the other? Is it the length of the shift or what happens when you are not on shift? Which is the bigger precursor to fatigue?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —It is a combination of things. It is the length of the duty itself; it is the passenger loads that occur on the day or on the duty that you operate; it is the reduced cabin crew member that we now operate under; it is the circumstances that occur on board; and, obviously, it is what occurs in your daily person life before and after work—for example, kids having to be dropped at school or having to be picked up from after school care. So it is a combination of things.

Senator O’BRIEN —I want to get your impression of how the Jetstar systems work. You have given us some examples of issues that crew members experience. One example was being asked to effectively work a double shift after you have arrived at work on that day. What do you feel the reaction would be from Jetstar if a flight attendant said, ‘I don’t feel able to do that shift today because I’m too tired’?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —The action is not looked upon favourably.

Senator O’BRIEN —When you say ‘is not’, do you have examples that you could call to mind?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I have been involved personally in examples where a flight attendant standing next to me has been informed that she must operate another two sectors, yes. This resulted in tears and back and forth calls between management and crewing and the flight attendant. The result was that the flight attendant became that mentally, emotionally and physically distraught because of the conversation that had to transpire that she was deemed unfit to operate any further anyway.

Senator O’BRIEN —You seem to be implying that there was a series of conversations in which the flight attendant was pressured. Is that what you are saying?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct.

Senator O’BRIEN —So you are talking about the next level of management up from the flight crew or above that?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I have never been involved in a circumstance where flight crew—meaning captains—pressure flight attendants to continue.

Senator O’BRIEN —So it was someone off the plane.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —In my reference it would be crewing, which would be the ones who dispatch us to flights. In this circumstance, the flight attendant did not see eye to eye with crewing so it was escalated to the next level of management.

Senator O’BRIEN —Is the example that you have just given an unusual event?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —The example of pressure?

Senator O’BRIEN —Yes.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —No, it is common,.

Senator O’BRIEN —As I explored with the company earlier today, I am sure there are times when a crew is unavailable or was supposed to have flown in on another aircraft that is extensively delayed and someone else is asked to take over—and not taking over means the plane does not go. I think we all understand those pressures. Is that an area where you have seen or experienced particular pressures? Is it different from other circumstances?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I have also had experience in those circumstances. A one-off here and there we can understand. As flight attendants we understand that there is a business to run as well. But when it becomes normal practice then that is a concern for flight attendants.

Senator O’BRIEN —What do you call a normal practice?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —When it becomes a couple of month’s back-to-back running of flight attendants being expected to extend beyond rostered duties on a daily basis. That becomes a big concern to us.

Senator O’BRIEN —Over a period of two months?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct.

Senator O’BRIEN —So your experience is that for periods of up to two months flight crews have been requested to work additional shifts or duty times to the rosters that were issued prior to those two months?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —If I may just clarify, it is cabin crew.

Senator O’BRIEN —Okay, cabin crew.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Yes.

Senator O’BRIEN —What sort of average hours?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —It might be an add-on of a coolie re-return, which is another 4½ to maybe five hours. That would be the minimum add-on, if not an Avalon return or sometimes just one sector resulting in an overnight. That would be the minimum add-on.

CHAIR —How many hours a month do you work?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Under my contract, I am contracted to do 140 hours.

Senator O’BRIEN —In a four-week period?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —That is correct.

CHAIR —And the pilots are on 100 hours, are they?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I would not be able to comment accurately on that.

CHAIR —Do you compare notes with other Qantas cabin crew, for example? Are you familiar with what they have got to fly? Are they on 140 hours too?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I would not be able to accurately comment. I do have friends in other airlines, and we chat when we are out for coffee. You compare your hours and what you have been rostered from the months; but to sit down and compare figures and numbers, no. I have an enterprise bargaining agreement for purposes of negotiation but that is as far as the comparison goes.

CHAIR —Do you occasionally have a yarn to the pilots? Do you say g’day to the pilots on the plane?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Of course.

CHAIR —Do they tell you that they feel just as tired as you?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Very much so.

CHAIR —And on these back of the clock arrangements they have a rest period where they can nod off?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —They have that, yes.

CHAIR —So if you have had a sick baby or a sick child and been to the doctor et cetera, would the rest of the flight crew give preference to a person who has had a difficult period in the lead-up to the shift for reasons beyond their control? Do you have a little jump seat on Sydney-Darwin and back where you can have a little camp, as a cabin crew?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —As a cabin crew, yes. We do look after each other as well as we can. If we are about to enter a back of the clock and someone has come expressing their concerns that their child was up all night or all day sick and what not, we will often display empathy and ask them what position would you like to fly today and would you like to take the first break? How about you sit down and we will do X, Y and Z for you. In terms of do we have a spot for them for a little nap or a snooze, it would be exactly the same as I previously explained.

CHAIR —In terms of the safety of the plane and your ability to deal with an emergency, do you have any capacity to be aware that the pilots are not asleep at the wheel, as it were?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —There is a procedure in which flight crew do take their rest and we are informed and we are to follow along with that procedure.

CHAIR —Could you describe to this committee that procedure?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —It is called controlled rest, where one of the operating pilots will take a period of rest. They will ring the cabin crew and inform them they are taking the controlled rest. That is for a certain amount of time. We then check our watches, inform the other crew and when that time period is over we ring back the flight deck and go in with a hot drink.

CHAIR —Would it be fair to say that that appears to work well?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Appears to, yes.

Senator O’BRIEN —You give an interesting perspective on driving home after an extended shift. Has that issue being raised with the company? Has it been explained that for most staff members getting a one-way trip home creates great difficulty?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Each individual cabin crew member when requesting transport has expressed the workability of that idea. They have always expressed that how am I supposed to come back and get my car? There have been circumstances where the cabin crew member has been lucky enough to obtain a ride back to the airport the next day, but that is based on circumstances and who you get on the phone on the day at the other end. They have individually raised those concerns, so I would say that the company is aware of that not being workable.

Senator O’BRIEN —Is this an issue that arises in enterprise bargaining negotiations?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I do not believe I am able to comment on that.

Senator O’BRIEN —The entitlement to transport is not covered by your enterprise agreement; or is it?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —No.

Senator O’BRIEN —Perhaps it should be. In terms of what you suggest on a lack of opportunity to take a meal break in pairing of quick sectors, can you explain that further for us?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —We have very short flights. I will speak about Sydney because they are probably the best examples I can give you, because I operate out of Sydney. It will take us about one hour and five minutes to fly to the Gold Coast. We will have a pairing of a ‘double Gold Coast’, which means up and down to the Gold Coast four times on the aircraft that most of us really despise operating on, which is Airbus A321. It can hold a passenger load, depending on the aircraft rego, of 210 to 214.

Senator XENOPHON —That is a stretch version of an A320?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct. When you operate a double Gold Coast on a Friday night on the A321, you do not get time to eat at all. You barely get time to drink water. That is operated with one less cabin crew member. It is operated with five cabin crew. You really feel the pressure.

Senator O’BRIEN —What has the company said about that?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Under my contract of employment, you are allowed to have your 20 minutes break undisturbed, but, if you do not, you receive a monetary reward, you could say, for not being able to eat. Other contracts of employment do not have that built into their contracts.

Senator O’BRIEN —Which do the staff prefer: the break or the money?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I would say that 90 per cent would prefer to eat, but the general conception is that if we are not going to eat we want to get something for it. But, to be quite honest, when I operate one of those duties, I am starving.

CHAIR —Just out of interest, do the pilots eat?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —We prepare the pilots’ food. Yes, they do eat. We look after the flight deck first before we start everything else.

CHAIR —On a lighter note, I think they ought to ban tucker on the Canberra-Sydney run. It is a waste of time.

Senator O’BRIEN —That is an extremely short leg. How frequently have crew members experienced the near 15-hour duty permitted under the agreement?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Personally, I have not experienced that and under my contract of employment I cannot, but I have a lot of professional peers under the Team Jetstar contract of employment who do that. I would say that a good 60 per cent have experienced the close to 15-hour duties.

Senator O’BRIEN —How frequently to your knowledge is that sort of shift experienced by those crews?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —In my personal opinion, too frequently.

Senator O’BRIEN —Would you say once a month, once every three months, twice a week—what do you mean?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Maybe once every three weeks per flight attendant.

Senator O’BRIEN —Obviously that is what people tell you rather than what you have seen yourself?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —No—from what I have seen.

Senator O’BRIEN —Are you required to stand by for call-up? Is that part of your roster? Do you have a standby period where you have to be available to work on short notice?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —We do. We have rostered live days, which are days where you are on call for a period of 12 hours, but you do those days at home. You can denominate those days to be available. To explain it to you better, they are incentive pay days. If you do not want to chase the money, you will denominate them. Those days will count towards your monthly hours.

Senator O’BRIEN —If you denominate them, they will count towards your monthly hours?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct.

Senator O’BRIEN —And, if you do not denominate them, they are overtime or something, are they?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —You get your hourly rate of pay on top of your base pay if you denominate them, but that means that the hours that you work on those days do not count towards your monthly total. You could do an extra 40 to 50 hours, depending on how many of those days you are allocated at roster-build, on top of your contracted hours.

Senator O’BRIEN —Do you mean per 28-day cycle?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —We are on a monthly cycle of 30 days.

Senator O’BRIEN —Some might say that doing long hours occasionally is just part and parcel of the job, or is it the case that it has gone too far in some cases? How do you categorise it amongst your peers?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —That it has gone too far.

Senator XENOPHON —I think a foreign cabin crew can be on those sectors that are on their way to Singapore or wherever, is that right? Do you have foreign trained cabin crew on Jetstar domestic flights?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Foreign trained cabin crew? Do you mean if they are training on our domestic sectors?

Senator XENOPHON —You have foreign cabin crew on Jetstar flights, correct?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct.

Senator XENOPHON —Are they trained at Australian ground schools or are they trained overseas?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —If memory serves me correctly, I do not think they are trained in Australia.

Senator XENOPHON —That is something we can check with Jetstar. But in your understanding, is there any differential in the level of training for cabin crew who are based overseas compared to cabin crew who are based here?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —It is my personal opinion that the requirements are not as strict as the requirements for cabin crew who are employed or trained in Australia. There have been a lot of complaints, for example, that their English is not up to scratch. They have not been taught as thoroughly as the crew who were recruited and trained here.

Senator XENOPHON —Then again, you have foreign cabin crew who have impeccable communication and English language skills.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Of course, there are.

Senator XENOPHON —I understand you have had a number of your peers speak to you about you giving evidence today. What sort of practical changes would you like to see?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —More realistic rostering for cabin crew, shorter duties, possibly breaking up those back of the clocks and overnights, and just a fair and equitable distribution of the longer duties across the board.

Senator XENOPHON —What is the morale like amongst your colleagues?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Morale?

Senator XENOPHON —Yes.

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I would say it is a very toxic workplace at the moment; so, very low.

CHAIR —Is that as much about a safe, stable job as anything else? Is that what people are worried about?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I do not understand your question.

CHAIR —Security of employment in a safe working environment—is that the issue?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —It is the issue.

CHAIR —If that is not the issue, what is the key issue?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —We love our jobs and we would like to hold onto our jobs. We do not want it to be this hard and we do not understand why it has to be this hard. We would like for our employers to maybe listen as we voice our concerns and work with us to build a happier workplace and a safer work environment.

CHAIR —So it would be fair to say—not for everyone, but generally—that people are happy to work for Qantas and Jetstar or whoever. You just need the stability of the job but you feel that the working conditions are not safe?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —We need a work and personal life balance and a safer workplace back to the workers. That is what we would like.

Senator XENOPHON —Because of the fatigue issue, I take it?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Yes.

CHAIR —So that then comes into the balance between what you do when you are not at work and what you do at work?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —Correct.

CHAIR —Do some people manage that better than others, do you think?

Ms Neeteson-Lemkes —I think that you are always going to have people who manage certain aspects of a job better than other people. I think that is just common in life. But on this issue of fatigue, I would say that we are all pretty much on the same side. It does not range in age differences. It is not felt less amongst the younger flight attendants compared to the older flight attendants; it is felt across the board.

CHAIR —I have to say that I much prefer to fly on Jetstar and Qantas than American Airlines, but that is just my observation. Thank you very much.

Committee adjourned at 1.05 pm