As the Qantas annual general meeting takes place today, the union is urging the airline to stop the race to the bottom that is impoverishing aviation workers.
“I put it to management at Qantas: could you survive on the wages that some of the employees in your supply chain are on? Could you pay full-time bills with these part-time wages?” asked TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Employees of QGS, a Qantas-owned company, are guaranteed just 20 hours per week while in the past month it has emerged that QGS are underpaying workers accessing sick leave. Other employees working for Qantas through labour hire firm Aerocare are guaranteed just 60 hours per month. These restricted hours place many below the poverty line. By contrast the Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has a take home pay of $13 million.
“It takes many employees in the Qantas supply chain a year to earn what Alan Joyce takes home in a day. This is about equity and fairness, it is about ensuring employees are able to support themselves and their families,” Sheldon added.
Asha Walter, a QGS baggage handler at Sydney Airport: “Banks won’t loan to you because they can see you’re not earning enough and it’s a struggle meeting weekly costs. People want to be able to provide for their families and feel like they have a future in the industry.”
Almost 70% of aviation employees surveyed* their pay does not allow them to meet their costs while over three-quarters say they cannot afford to retire at 65.
A recent international report** on conditions for aviation workers shows that a low wages is leading to a high turnover of staff which is creating security risks and safety hazards. It highlights Sydney airport where “at any one time there are hundreds of workers with a temporary pass, those who have not yet had background security checks”.
* click here for TWU survey: The Qantas effect: the changing nature of aviation employment.
** click here for International Transport Workers’ Federation report: Record profits for airlines; airport workers under pressure