“Behind Aerocare is industrial relations consultancy First IR, which boasts its ability to win enterprise agreements that fail the better overall tests*. Behind Aerocare also are its owners, private equity fund Archer Capital, which does not care enough about safety in aviation or having a productive, well trained and motivated staff. Their bottom line is only one thing: money,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The move follows cover-ups and lies by Aerocare following the revelations in which the company denied workers were sleeping at airports, despite the conclusive footage and worker testimony backing it up.
The new agreement will see staff pay effectively cut – with a one-off 5% pay increase over four years, which will be below inflation. The agreement will continue to give staff a guarantee of no more than 60 hours a month. This puts a couple with two children over $2000 below the poverty line**.
Aerocare failed to give notice to the TWU and Australian Services Union of the vote during recent negotiation meetings.
“This rushed vote is a tactical move by Aerocare which does not want open discussion about what it is offering. It is threatening staff they will lose back-pay on a pay rise if there are delays to the agreement but that increase will put them below inflation during the course of this agreement so it is effectively a pay cut. Employees will be worse off, that is why we are urging people vote no,” said Sheldon.
“This proves how broken the system is and how employers are gaming it to bring in the Americanisation of Australian jobs,” he added.
The Aerocare agreement entails:
· A one-off 5% increase over the four-year agreement, which will put employees below inflation
· No weekly guarantee of hours; no more than 60 hours guaranteed a month. This puts a couple with two children over $2,000 below the poverty line**.
· Split shifts, specifically excluded under the award
· Below award rates on night work and Sunday, public holiday and Christmas and Good Friday work
· No extra pay for over-time on non-rostered hours
· Omission of many aviation allowances
“Workers will continue to live below the poverty line if this agreement gets voted up. They will continue to sleep at the airports and in their cars because of splits shifts and low wages. They will continue to live in fear of speaking out and our aviation industry will be at risk because of this and the high turn-over rate a substandard agreement like this promotes,” said Sheldon.
Set up in 1988 First IR is a workplace relations consultancy which lists on its website among its achievements:
- “Successfully argued on public interest grounds to secure approval of several EAs that failed the better of overall test”
- “Won approval of non-union EBA for Australia’s largest airport ground handling company”
In a newsletter put out in March 2015, First IR highlighted a case, where “telling the truth had unintended negative consequences for a company when it openly said on being approached by unions to bargain, that it didn’t want an agreement”. The company was forced by Fair Work Commission to negotiate an enterprise agreement. First IR said of the case: “this case highlights the need for care, and a little planning, where an employer has a strong preference for avoiding enterprise bargaining”.
** With 60 hours guaranteed a monthly Aerocare workers earn between $1200 and $1400 a month, depending on their classification. The montjly pverty line is $1705 for a single person and $3580 for a couple with two children.