Airport Handling Services Australia (AHSA), owned by Emirates-backed ground handling company Dnata, submitted an agreement for approval voted on by just two employees which would give staff below award rates and just 60 hours work per month, with no weekly guarantee, similar to the Aerocare agreement.
“We welcome the withdrawal of this disgraceful agreement but we know this company has not gone away. It intends in the future to operate below market rates, undermining Dnata’s own agreement. This is gaming the system and makes a mockery of Malcolm Turnbull’s revenue rise forecasts which are based on wage increases. Wages will not increase as long as employers are allowed to work the system to undermine their own agreement and market rates,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The TWU has lodged an objection to the Aerocare agreement, after a rushed vote over the Easter weekend which was held in a climate of fear and intimidation.
“AHSA withdrew its agreement because it knew it went to the extremes. Its carbon copy is the Aerocare agreement which now is in serious doubt. Aerocare has been exposed over its working conditions in which staff are forced to sleep at airports and in their cars because of low pay and split shifts. The resulting fatigue is causing high injury rates and safety breaches,” Sheldon added.
The AHSA agreement allowed for split shifts, which are illegal under the award, and had rates that would have seen cuts to Sunday award penalty rates by 30%, public holiday pay by 30%, Christmas and Good Friday pay by 50% and a 2.5% cut for night work. The agreement also denied various allowances specific to the aviation industry.
The aviation industry is highly profitable. Profits at the four main airports in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane increased to $1.8b billion last year. Qantas post profits of over $852 million – in just six months to December 2016.
Emirates Group is owned by the Government of Dubai, which is accused by human rights groups of violations. Foreign workers are exploited and homosexuality is illegal. Amnesty International in a report detailed harassment, arrests and, in some cases, torture in custody of activists during the Arab spring.