March 22, 2020


The Transport Workers’ Union has criticised the Morrison Government’s assistance package today, saying support to businesses to keep workers employed doesn’t go far enough and that allowing workers to access their super amounts to “fiscal stupidity”.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said: “The offer of up to $100,000 to small businesses to keep workers employed will get burned through in a matter of weeks for many companies. For workers employed in larger businesses, there is no support. Qantas workers are being stood down now and the company is forcing them to bail it out and fund the airline through their own accrued and future leave. The Government is wasting time and not taking the necessary steps to save jobs and support workers. The lack of definitive intervention is creating anxiety among workers,” he said.

Workers accessing superannuation funds which have been dwindled significantly because of market turmoil is the wrong move. “It is nothing short of fiscal stupidity to expect workers to dip into superannuation savings which in recent weeks have been reduced significantly.  It will lock workers into significant market losses. Just like Qantas, the Government is expecting workers to shoulder the burden of this crisis. That is not just unfair, it is also dangerous as it will leave workers and the economy in a worse off position to bounce back from the crisis once the pandemic is under control,” Kaine added.

The TWU and the broader trade union movement are ready to co-operate with the Federal Government and have written to it three times this week. This includes a joint letter with the Australian Services Union and aviation companies which are facing financial difficulties because of the crisis. The Prime Minister refused to meet for discussions.

The TWU has called on the Government to implement measures which 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 forced leave imposed, companies to agree to not pay shareholder dividends or executive bonuses before workers back to work and all leave has been recredited
  • Companies like Qantas which have promised bonuses must pay them now

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