February 2, 2021


As many of the last ever Qantas baggage handlers, ramp workers and cabin cleaners leave their jobs as part of an outsourcing plan, the TWU is calling for a Commission to be put in place to regulate aviation to ensure the industry’s survival and decent well paid jobs.

The TWU submission to the Senate inquiry on the aviation industry also calls for the Federal Government to take equity stakes in airlines and other aviation companies. It argues for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to be set up to deal with the continuing shocks felt in the aviation industry with powers to make orders to lift labour and safety standards.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said today would be a sad day for many Qantas workers pushed out the door because of the airline’s disgraceful outsourcing plan and that this move showed the need for Government intervention in the aviation industry.

“Today is the final day at work for many baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and ramp workers with Qantas pushing them out the door to replace them with workers on lower wages and conditions. This is not a smart move for the airline, for the industry or the wider economy. But it is being allowed to happen because the Federal Government doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Qantas and set conditions on the over a billion dollars in public support it has received,” he said.

“The trashing of our industry has got to stop. Aviation needs ongoing protection from the constant shocks it faces whether it is virus outbreaks, terrorism attacks or out of control management with an eye more on lining their pockets that a long-term plan for their company. That is why we want to see the Federal Government set up a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to regulate the industry and guide it to ensure it serves those who matter most: the travelling public and aviation workers,” Kaine added.

The TWU submission calls for ongoing support from the Federal Government in the form of ‘Aviation Keeper’ and a national plan on pandemic restrictions. It highlights the fact that most jobs at the airport today are low paid and part-time with workers constantly desperate to increase their hours from as little as 60 hours a month. It calls for the Commission to implement a “same job, same pay” policy to address the situation whereby some workers are paid different wage levels. It outlines how public funding during the pandemic for airlines has been biased and skewed, with Rex, whose deputy chairman is a National Party official, received a disproportionate amount of funding and Dnata workers entirely shut out of Jobkeeper.

“With little to no Government ownership or intervention in the aviation market in Australia, this volatile cycle keeps repeating itself during every economic shock. Therefore, the shock absorber most often used in the aviation industry is the jobs, wages and conditions of workers themselves,” the submission states.

The TWU has taken a Federal Court case to stop the outsourcing of 2,500 jobs, which could overturn the move by Qantas. The airline is nevertheless pushing ground workers out the door targeted despite the impending court case.  The outsourcing move means Qantas will never employ another baggage handler, cabin cleaner or ramp worker.

The TWU along with other unions is taking Qantas to the High over its misuse of Jobkeeper and its refusal to pay sick workers the leave they have built up.

Qantas revealed in its latest annual report it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

Last week the TWU, other unions and employers called for Aviation Keeper, an extension and broadening of wage support for aviation workers still hit by the downturn in the industry. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has so far refused to extend the lifeline to aviation workers unable to resume their jobs due to the international border closure and rolling domestic border closures.

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