Nationwide airport strikes this weekend mean customs, immigration delays

By David Flynn, August 12 2016
Nationwide airport strikes this weekend mean customs, immigration delays

If you're flying out of Australia today, pad your travel schedule with plenty of extra time due to a 24 hour strike at airports across Australia.

Staff from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection kicked off the industrial action from midnight, in an effort to bring the government to the table to resolve a public service enterprise bargaining agreement.

The strike involves Border Force officers who usually check passports and arrival cards, and other employees carrying out passenger screening and customs inspections.

Quarantine and biosecurity inspections at international airports will also be hit with delays during an hour-long 'stop work meeting' planned for union members from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Departmental managers will stand in for the striking workers but this will go only a small way to alleviating queues and chaos at international airports.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 131

I arrived back from a trip overseas last year while there was a strike on. I was expecting the worst, but funnily enough the staff that were there were super organised, and it's one of the fastest times I've ever moved through the airport!

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 213

Arrived in Perth last year to one of these rolling strikes as a few int. aircraft landed around same time, about 1000 peolelines up to exit, took about 1.5 hours to exit, these strikers did not give a stuff if you were old or on crutches, once the last couple hundred were left in line they decided to resume duties, how dare they make the travelling public pay for their greviances, simplt awful behaviour.


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 730

I travelled last year in November when there was one of these strikes at Melbourne, everything worked ok, they even still honoured fast track cards, was wondering if they would not accept them, what with being under the pump. let's see:


  • Person checking BP and passport before security: Outsourced private contractors
  • Security checks: Outsourced private contractors
  • Passport control: Automatic gates

Impact: Minimal?


  • Passport control (AU & certain countries): Automatic gates
  • Passport control (other countries): Impacted
  • Customs/Bio Security: Impacted

Impact: Moderate. Careful pax profiling and targeting of specific flights will further help to mitigate the risk of long queues forming at the customs/bio security checks.

I think its fair to say that strikes won't have that much of an impact. The unions better think of another method of disruption. Perhaps there is some lame health and safety rule they can exploit.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2438

TRB: Just as an FYI the departure SmartGates aren't entirely automated – there are Border Force staff behind with screens to see who is passing through, their travel history, photos and so on, and gates are opened/closed in blocks depending on how many workstations are manned by staff. :)

Ah...did not know that. Thanks for the heads up.

Is there a minimum staff to gate ratio required for gates to operate?

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