No incentive has been offered for weekends or the Easter public holidays.
Staff are paid between $23.27 and $26.57 an hour, which the United Workers Union says is lower than that of employees in identical roles at Melbourne and Brisbane airports.
“They struggle to attract guards because they have the lowest wages on the eastern seaboard with regards to aviation security,” union spokesman Damien Davie said.
“These people are working on similar wages to what adults are on at McDonald’s or Coles. They’re charged with keeping the travelling public safe.”
The airport and Qantas have blamed passengers for contributing to the delays, criticising “inexperienced” travellers for taking too long to remove items such as laptops and aerosols at security screening.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said that, before COVID-19, about 10 per cent of passengers required rescreening, but that rate had now increased to 30 per cent.
Qantas and Jetstar are flying more passengers domestically than before the pandemic.
University students Muriël De Kroon, Julian Seesink and Iina Mäkelä were among those queuing at Sydney Airport on Tuesday afternoon for a flight to Brisbane.
The exchange students – originally from Leiden University and Nijmegen in the Netherlands and Aalto University in Finland – have been studying at the University of Sydney and decided to use their university break to see more of Australia.
The trio travelled to the airport three hours early in case there were long lines, arriving before the bag check for their flight had opened. They then queued for about 10 minutes and made it through security quicker than expected, leaving time to get some food.
De Kroon said the group was used to European airports, where they have to arrive early because things usually go wrong.
On Saturday, the NSW government added airport workers to the list of people exempt from close contact rules. The decision should increase the pool of staff available to work.
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