Virgin, six other aviation companies and unions representing tens of thousands of workers have sent a joint appeal to the Prime Minister to implement Aviation Keeper, an extension to Jobkeeper for all aviation workers beyond September.
The appeal comes as fears mount for jobs in aviation with the closure of the NSW-Victoria border, Qantas plans 6000 redundancies and job losses loom at Virgin.
The letter coincides with an advertising campaign to highlight the need for Aviation Keeper.
The Australian Services Union and the Transport Workers’ Union joined companies across the industry such as Virgin, Dnata, Menzies, Cabin Services Australia, Gate Gourmet, Swissport and SNP in an effort to secure wages while aviation remains crippled.
The letter calls on the Prime Minister to extend Jobkeeper and phase it out when “domestic and international borders are phased open, confidence in aviation returns and flying returns to normal”.
It states: “a commitment by the Federal Government to deliver ‘Aviation Keeper’ would give workers and businesses the certainty they need at this time. It would mean the aviation industry would remain intact, ready to respond when the economy rebounds.”
While many aviation jobs have been kept going during the pandemic because of Jobkeeper this is scheduled to end in September. Meanwhile thousands of workers have been unable to receive Jobkeeper because of last-minute changes by the Federal Government precluding workers whose companies are owned by foreign governments.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Government must act quickly to save jobs and businesses in aviation.
“We are at a critical moment where businesses and jobs are just about clinging on but without a signal of ongoing support they will be lost,” he said.
“The border closure between NSW and Victoria is a major setback for the industry and comes as the two domestic airlines struggle. Aviation will be vital to the nation’s economic recovery and the wealth of skills and experience among aviation workers cannot be replaced quickly or easily.”
“The Federal Government needs to urgently decide if it will risk mass redundancies in aviation and the knock-on effect of impeding a bounce-back from the pandemic,” Kaine said.
ASU Assistant National Secretary Linda White said workers were being left in limbo about their future income and job security.
“Our aviation industry is in freefall,” she said. “Millions of businesses, jobs and livelihoods depend on this critical industry,” she said.
“We cannot allow this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic to completely demolish an industry which is so central to our community and businesses. If the Morrison Government cuts JobKeeper, the planes won’t be there when we need them, grounding the whole economy.
“Flying is essential for Australia – it keeps this vast land connected. We need these planes and staff if our economy is going to bounce back successfully from the impact of COVID-19.
“We need continued income support for all aviation workers, regardless of who owns their employer, until borders re-open and we can safely fly again.”
A survey shows 70% of aviation workers have been stood down from their jobs with almost 40% stating they have no income. Over 1,000 workers responded to the survey with almost 30% stating they have had to access their superannuation to get by.
Almost half of respondents are worried they won’t be able to support their families throughout the crisis while 20% say they are worried they will lose their house.