Government Must Put Aviation Security and Standards First

Release date: 23/09/2010

The principal union in the aviation industry, the Transport Workers’ Union, has welcomed today’s announcement by the Prime Minister that improving national aviation security systems will be one of the key-first term priorities of her legislative agenda.

 “For far too long we have seen the aviation security systems in this country lag behind the precedents being set in the USA and the UK, and aviation industry workers and their families are fed up being treated like second class citizens,” Transport Workers Union national secretary, Tony Sheldon said.

“Literally days after the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, both the US and UK authorities took steps to establish national co-ordination agencies responsible for all aspects of their aviation security systems.  

“Subsequently, both agencies have progressively taken significant steps to improve aviation security, including limiting the use of contract labor, improving checks for both staff and passengers per and post flight, ensuring 100 per cent checked bag screening and, most recently in the US, mandating security training as a key requirement for all in-flight personal.

“Back home, despite the direct terrorist attacks on Australian nationals in Bali, there have  been numerous reports and enquiries into our aviation security systems, including by Sir John Wheeler and the Australian National Audit Office, which identified significant flaws. There is still no one single body responsible for aviation security in this country.”

“Worse still we have seen a proliferation of the use of external contract labor at our airports that has been consistently identified as an increased risk. Poor rates of pay and a lack of training results in a high turnover of staff.

“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is also supposedly considering a reduction in the number of flight crew on aircraft operating in Australian.

As far as aviation workers are concerned, it is like we are aspiring to take our security standards down to third world levels rather than seeking to maintain our record of leading even the UK and United States,” Mr Sheldon said. 

To address this crisis the Transport Workers Union will be writing to Prime Minister Gillard today identifying the following priorities for urgent legislative reform to improve aviation security in this country:

·      single co-ordinating and responsible body

·      cabin crew rations and licensing system

·      training for all staff

·      whistleblower rights

·      limitations on contract staff to prevent high staff turnover

·      uniform wages and employments conditions for all staff in Australia air space.

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