March 3, 2021


The jobs of almost 90% of aviation workers continue to be affected by the pandemic with only 11% back to working in their jobs with normal hours, according to a new survey which shows the need for Aviation Keeper, an extension to Jobkeeper for all aviation workers.

The survey results come as aviation workers, unions, Qantas, Rex, Swissport and Government departments will give evidence today and tomorrow at a Senate Inquiry investigating the impact of the pandemic on the industry.

One in four workers remain stood down from their jobs and 33% are working reduced hours.

The survey of over 900 aviation workers shows valuable skills have already been lost from the industry. Of the one in five workers who have left aviation or been made redundant, over 35% had over 20 years’ experience and 25% had between 10 and 20 years’ experience.

Workers are finding it hard to get other jobs: just 3% found a new job in aviation, 77% applied for work in aviation but didn’t hear back while 20% were rejected for jobs. Of those who found other jobs over one in two said the pay and conditions were worse.

The impact has been significant on workers and their families:

·         55% have had to access super

·         39% have had to use up leave entitlements

·         40% have had to ask family or friends for financial help

·         36% have had to stop rent or mortgage payments

·         55% have had to delay bill payments

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Federal Government has mismanaged the crisis in the aviation industry, allowing jobs and skills to be lost.

“The aviation industry and the workers in it continue to be hugely affected by the pandemic. Despite this we are just three weeks away from the end of Jobkeeper and the Federal Government refuses to give any assurances about the industry’s future. We have been calling for Aviation Keeper for some time now we have the evidence to show how badly it is needed,” he said.

“It is vital that we get conditions attached to Aviation Keeper, including a cap on CEO salaries, ban on bonuses and dividends, and a ban on outsourcing. Aviation executives should not profit while aviation workers are suffering so badly. The Government must hold the likes of Qantas to account, which has received significant public funds but outsourced workers. This survey shows the level of skills lost is significant, that these workers are now struggling to get work and when they do get work the pay is less. This is having a major impact on our industry and our economy,” Kaine added.

One respondent to the survey said: “None of the other ground service companies replied to my applications. I was forced to apply elsewhere and leave aviation.”

Another said: “I’m 53 years old and considered too old by most places I apply for. I was a proud Qantas worker and I feel like I have lost some identity. I took 24 years to get to the top of my work group tree and now thanks to the greed of the CEO I have to start at the bottom again.”

On the financial struggles one respondent said: “After rent, I’m left with $35 a week with JobKeeper so am relying on savings I’ve built up over 20 years.

Qantas is outsourcing all of its baggage handlers, ramp workers and cabin cleaners and is replacing them with workers on lower wages and conditions. The TWU has taken a Federal Court case to stop the outsourcing.

The TWU and other unions are taking Qantas to the High Court over both Qantas’s refusal to pay sick leave and Jobkeeper misuse.

Qantas revealed in its latest annual report it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

Click here for survey snapshot.

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