March 18, 2020


Tens of thousands of airport jobs are at risk today because the Federal Government has failed to act to save them, warns the Transport Workers’ Union.

The announced assistance package to airlines will not protect jobs at companies which service Qantas, Virgin and other airlines, as airlines drastically scale back their operations and international travel grinds to a halt, says the TWU.

An urgent request for wider support from the Prime Minister is being prepared by the TWU, Australian Services Union and aviation companies.

“Waving fees for some airlines is not going to save jobs. The package announced last night is what you get when you only talk to well-paid airline executives and refuse to speak to the wider industry or workers. The window of opportunity to act in aviation, which is our critical gateway to the globe, is closing fast. The Prime Minister is refusing to protect the workers and companies that hold the key to post-virus recovery and he may never be forgiven for this,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

“Today we have companies representing thousands of baggage handlers, ramp workers, caterers, cleaners, drivers, cabin crew and security personnel facing a tough challenge. They are trying to stay open but it is becoming increasingly difficult and lay offs of labour hire staff have begun. The Government must be held accountable for this and for the further impacts on jobs,” Kaine added.

Unions and employers are seeking assurances from the Government that workers on unpaid leave can access Newstart and top up payments, that companies can get access to loans and that Government guarantees can be issued if necessary.

The TWU wrote to the Prime Minister on Sunday and again yesterday, in a joint letter with the ASU, urging a meeting so the needs of workers could be heard. Yesterday the Prime Minister’s office replied saying he was “unable to accept your meeting invitation”.

“We are very disappointed that the Government is refusing to meet representatives of airport workers when even he admits that these jobs will be hardest hit during this crisis. Assistance for aviation cannot just be about propping up airlines. There is a wider aviation industry that is facing drastic choices and without it airports and airlines won’t be able to open for business when the crisis subsides,” he added.

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