February 25, 2019


The ACCC’s airport monitoring report today shows profits for the four main airports Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth jumped to $2.2 billion. At the same time many aviation workers struggle to get more than 15 hours per week with many paid below award wages.


Airport workers, from baggage handlers to cabin crew to aircraft cleaners, are preparing a claim to serve on the airport in coming months demanding:


  • the same pay for the same job, regardless of which company engages workers
  • secure work with permanent full-time jobs
  • safety and security as a number one priority, rather than a focus on engaging work to be carried out for the lowest cost possible


“Airports are holding the cards in the aviation industry. They are setting the contracts at the top of the supply chain which dictate the working conditions we are seeing throughout: forced part-time hours, below award wages, people not paid allowances they are entitled to and split shifts which see workers forced to sleep at the airports. There is an urgent need for accountability when profits and working conditions are skewed to this extent,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.


“There is a very serious safety and security aspect to this problem. When billions of dollars in profit are squeezed out of an industry corners get cut. Labour hire firms are being engaged where staff are working chronically fatigued and without full security clearance. Turnover is huge and daily breaches are occurring. If the Federal government is serious about safety and security at our airports they need to start holding the airports to account over working conditions now,” he added.


Workers at Sydney Airport were revealed to be sleeping behind baggage carousels during split shifts, which see them at the airport for 15 hours and more but just paid for as little as six hours. The airport cleaned up the bedding area the day after media reported on it.


At Sydney International Airport, 134 injuries were reported among the Aerocare Swissport ground-handling staff of just 326.


Many airport workers struggle to increase their hours beyond as few as 60 hours a month. An analysis shows Aerocare Swissport workers earn more than $1000 below the award because the company does not pay correct over time rates for Easter, Christmas Day, morning and night shifts and forces workers onto three-hour shifts.

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