August 21, 2019
Workers will demand action from airports during protests around the country to end unsafe and unfair working conditions.
Baggage handlers, drivers, airline caterers, cleaners, cabin crew, security staff, refuellers, customer service and check-in staff will call on wealthy airports to address low wages and the fact that many are kept for years on part-time work, some as few as 60 hours a month. They will speak out against deliberate understaffing which causes injuries and poor working conditions which results in a lack of experienced, trained staff.
The times and locations for protests are:
- Sydney Airport: 12.15pm International Terminals Arrivals
- Melbourne airport: 1pm Park Royale Hotel
- Perth Airport: 11am, 2 George Wiencke Dr (Alpha Building)
- Coolangatta Airport: 11am, Main Terminal
- Adelaide Airport: 11am, start at taxi rank
“Behind the shiny facades of our airports lies an appalling reality for airport workers. They are kept constantly desperate for more hours and struggle to support their families on low rates. Thousands of workers at Swissport/Aerocare have been ripped off their wages for seven years and have even been forced to sleep at airports between grueling split shifts. Airports are profiting from this because they are allowing companies to win contracts on the basis of the lowest possible cost. They are failing to take into account efficiency, safety and fair working conditions. Airport workers are today saying enough is enough,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
Airport workers in recent months have submitted claims to all major airports demanding: the same rate for doing the same job; secure work with regular hours; safety and security as the number one priority, rather than a focus on engaging work to be carried out for the lowest cost possible.
The claim is part of the plan announced this week by the TWU for widespread industrial action next year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire. The aim of the industrial action and the claim is to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, including airports.
“Airports make billions of dollars in profit and the Federal Government is refusing to hold them to account for the rip-off of airport workers. Both parties are on notice: we will escalate our actions leading up to 2020 in order to secure better jobs and safer working environment,” Kaine added.
Australia’s four major airports, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, made over $2.2 billion in profit last year.
The Fair Work Commission two weeks ago terminated the 2012 Swissport/Aerocare enterprise agreement which confirmed the company was ripping its workers off. The company has also been exposed over staff forced to sleep at work during split shifts which force them to stay at work for up to 15 hours while they are paid for just six hours. The company has also been exposed over:
- High injury rates among staff. At Sydney International Airport there were 134 injury incidents among a staff of 326;
- Security incidents, including passengers at Perth airport allowed airside to collect their baggage after a baggage handler was left alone to unload an entire aircraft;
- Staff being forced back to work while still injured;
- Managers accompanying injured staff into doctors’ surgeries during appointments;
- Broken and faulty equipment in use around aircraft and passengers.