Qantas hit with safety claim
Release date: 4/02/2011
The Transport Workers Union has taken legal action against Qantas, claiming the airline has failed to address safety concerns about the trucks used by its catering arm.
Ewin Hannan, Industrial Editor, The Australian
The union alleged hydraulic failures on the Q Catering's lift system had resulted in two near-misses with aircraft wings.
It claimed any contact would have put drivers at risk of serious injury or death, and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars damage to the aircraft.
As well as action in Fair Work Australia, the union has made a separate complaint to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, requesting it investigate Qantas and issue infringement notices, fines, or enforceable voluntary undertakings where necessary.
A Qantas spokesman said there had been one incident involving hydraulics, and the issue had been addressed.
"Qantas is committed to the highest safety standards, and we are completely confident in our management of workplace safety and our obligations to our employees across our operations," the company spokesman said yesterday. "The TWU is again running an industrial campaign on the back of dubious safety claims."
The union's Queensland secretary, Peter Biagini, said other alleged breaches include faulty demisters that led to a collision with a baggage trolley when the driver's view was obscured by fogging, faulty brakes and a faulty speedometer.
"Qantas is determined to trash its own brand through a cavalier attitude to the safety and security of its workforce and the travelling public," Mr Biagini said yesterday.
"This attitude is informed by a culture of aggressive cost-cutting and outsourcing.
"Employees are considered expendable, and the public is taken for a bunch of mugs."
The Qantas spokesman said some of the statements made by Mr Biagini were "outrageous, beneath contempt and simply designed to make a cheap point".
"The facts of this matter relate to the recent termination of an employee for repeated workplace safety breaches," the airline spokesman said.
"We do not believe it has anything to with the safety of our operations or our aircraft."
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