Release date: 16/12/2009

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has welcomed the recommendations from the Rudd Government’s Aviation Whitepaper, saying restrictions on labour hire and personal responsibility for security by company chiefs will go a long way to fixing problems at our airports.


TWU national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said a new provision which would cap the number of times a labour-hire worker can use a visitor security card would be capped, leading to more employees being screened for ASIC cards.

“The costly requirement to make our airports safe for passengers and the workforce is undermined by the use of labour hire – where under-funded training, safety and security arrangements drives the reality of what happens at our national and regional airports,” Mr Sheldon said.

“For a long time now the TWU has been calling on airlines and airports to stop outsourcing labour to the lowest bidder as it is a security risk. This report will go a long way to making companies responsible when it comes to labour hire.

“The Aviation Whitepaper also places the responsibility for implementing transport security plans directly to the CEO of the airport or airline. This is a massive improvement as the heads of companies will be personally liable for the actions taken by outsourced operators.

“However, all we may get out of it is an increase in insurance premiums as CEO’s, management and equity funds are only driven by the short-term bonuses,” Mr Sheldon said.

Mr Sheldon said the TWU would fight any changes to the structure of ownership for Australia’s national airline, saying lifting the limits on who can control the airline could be disastrous for the future of aviation in Australia.

“If Qantas is allowed to lift the 25 per cent limit on individual ownership or 35 per cent international ownership of the company, then we could once again see decisions made for the short-term bonus’ of executives rather than long-term viability and security of our industry,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Qantas needs to immediately come clean as to what its intentions are – to both their workforce and the Australian people.

“We also need to look at who would like to buy the airline and what their motives might be. We also don’t want to see airlines like Etihad or Emirates take control of our national airline either. Dubai is in financial strife and the United Arab Emirates is little more than a de-facto slave state. You’d have to go back to Genghis Khan and Caligula to find a rap sheet half as bad as the countries who own these airlines.

“The Qantas brand is an integral part of doing business in Australia – it cannot be undervalued and auctioned off for the sake of a few dollars. We need to protect this Australian icon and selling it off to a competitor should not happen,” Mr Sheldon said.

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