Prime Minister Scott Morrison must urgently meet worker representatives to agree measures to protect workers, including paying wages if workers are stood down and preventing companies from forcing staff to work back leave when the crisis is over, said the Transport Workers’ Union.
Measures being sought by the TWU include:
· Government to cover the wages of workers stood down; up to 80% of their salary, as per the UK Government announcement
· When Government salary payment begins, workers no longer have to use their leave
· Before any stands downs and Government wages payment kicks in, companies to agree to not pay shareholder dividends or executive bonuses until at least 2022
· Before shareholder dividends and executives bonuses are paid, all workers’ leave must be recredited
· Companies like Qantas which have promised bonuses to workers must pay them now
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Government must start talking to worker representatives on a strategy for dealing with jobs losses and hundreds of thousands of workers who will be without pay.
“The Government is not acting fast enough and instead companies like Qantas are filling the void with their own plans to shift the burden onto workers, by forcing them to use accrued leave and even future leave. We demand that the Government agrees to pay the wages of workers who are stood down and we demand that the Government puts strict conditions on how companies behave when they emerge from the crisis. Any package needs to make sure aviation executives and shareholders don’t privatise the profits and socialise the losses,” he said.
“Governments around the world are moving to protect workers, families and their economies. What is Scott Morrison waiting for? Why is he refusing to meet worker representatives, which are in constant contact with workers and have a unique understanding of how this is affecting people? The uncertainty is causing extreme confusion and anxiety among workers. They need certainty and the Government is failing them,” he added.
The TWU has three times written to the Federal Government this week, including a joint letter with the Australian Services Union and aviation companies which are facing financial difficulties because of the crisis. The Prime Minister has refused to meet for discussions.