Dnata ground crew within Qantas’ supply chain will soon begin voting on whether they have the right to take industrial action, after the Fair Work Commission today approved a TWU application to hold a protected action ballot.
Dnata ground crew have been fighting against management’s attempts to push through an agreement that gives pay cuts to experienced workers and pushes workers into below the legal award conditions. The company has so far denied workers’ attempts to increase part-time hours or invest in permanent positions to ease pressure on the chronically over-worked crews.
Without an offering that locks in basic rights and secure jobs to encourage experienced workers to return to the industry, ground crew are warning the chaos seen at airports in recent months will only get worse.
Already low rates of pay and shocking working conditions have been made worse by Qantas’ decision to illegally outsource work in the middle of the pandemic. The airline squeezes ground-handling companies across the industry by demanding companies like Dnata cut costs to win enough work to keep their heads above water.
The result is an industry-wide race to the bottom, with secure jobs and strong conditions in the firing line.
A successful protected action ballot result would extend protections to workers under the Fair Work Act to take action, including possible strikes.
TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh said industrial action was always a last resort, but Dnata workers shouldn’t be forced to accept a poor deal that would see working conditions go backwards.
“Dnata workers are overworked, exhausted and understaffed as they battle to plug gaps in working rosters. They reasonably deferred bargaining during the pandemic despite not receiving a cent of JobKeeper, and now just want a fair deal for themselves and their families”.
“Workers are sending Dnata and its purse-string controllers at Qantas a clear message: settle a fair deal that locks in secure jobs with strong conditions, or workers may be forced to take further action”.
“The problem here is that when Qantas says jump, these third-party labour hire companies in aviation ask how high just so they can keep the contract. Dnata workers are just the latest casualty in the Joyce-led administration’s moves to wring aviation contracts dry, with working men and women expected to accept a shoddy deal while wealthy executives live the high life”.
“This obsessive focus on aviation profits has allowed these industry-wide problems to fester. The Albanese Government should cut out the rot with an independent Safe and Secure Skies Commission that can stem the flow of skilled workers leaving the industry and rebalance aviation towards secure jobs and quality services”.
A recent staff memo from Dnata said unsafe behaviour had led to aircraft and equipment damage, telling workers they’re not allowed to use the term ‘under the pump’ when things go wrong.
There have been several safety incidents around Qantas aircraft since ground work was outsourced across the country, including belt loaders crashing into planes, locking pins left in landing gear and incorrect weight information given to pilots before take-off.