Qantas disappointed by domestic cabin crew's industrial action vote

A passenger walks past a Qantas Airways emblem at the Sydney International Airport terminal July 18, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray

SYDNEY, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX) said on Thursday it was disappointed that domestic cabin crew had voted in favour of industrial action that could include work stoppages of up to 24 hours amid negotiations over a fresh deal involving pay and conditions.

The Flight Attendants' Association of Australia (FAAA), which had raised concerns that the proposed Qantas pay deal would extend duty lengths and reduce rest provisions, said 99% of votes received were in favour of industrial action.

"The FAAA aims to take a measured approach to any industrial action which minimises disruption to the travelling public, especially over the upcoming Christmas holiday peak," the union said in a statement. "We are seeking a fair offer that doesn't send flight attendant pay and conditions backwards."

Qantas has around 1,500 short-haul cabin crew and the union would need to give three business days of notice before taking any action, which could also include overtime bans and refraining from boarding responsibilities, according to paperwork filed with the Fair Work Commission.

"This is a very disappointing step by FAAA given we're continuing to negotiate towards a new agreement," a Qantas spokesperson said.

The airline last month said it would offer unionised employees two years of pay freezes followed by two years of 3% increases, up from an earlier offer of 2%, as well as bonuses worth about A$10,000 ($6,742.00) each.

Qantas on Wednesday lifted its first-half profit forecast for the second time in six weeks on strong travel demand and said its debt was reducing faster than expected, allowing it to consider further returns to shareholders in February.

Pilots at low-cost arm Jetstar this week voted in favour of a new pay deal, according to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots.

Qantas said on Wednesday that 6,500, or 33%, of unionised employees had signed up to new pay agreements and it expected to reach in-principle deals with other groups in the coming weeks.

($1 = 1.4832 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Ana Nicolaci da Costa

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