The turnover problem means large numbers of staff do not have full security clearance to operate at airports and do not have the experience or training to spot potential terror threats.
“On any given day there are many hundreds of people working at our airports with no ASIO or Federal Police security checks. This includes people doing regular work airside from maintenance to ground crew and, most concerning, security personnel. These staff are often on below award rates, split shifts, forced part-time and are subject to horrific workplace injuries. Because of the appalling conditions many airport employees do not stay in jobs long and this high turnover rate is creating a security risk that our Federal Government and airport owners are willfully turning a blind eye to,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Low pay and forced part-time hours are a common feature of the aviation industry. Ground-handling company Aerocare is leading the race to the bottom with media exposes this year highlighting staff forced to sleep at airports, high injury rates and below award rates. Airports and airlines are refusing to take responsibility for the conditions of Aerocare staff who work in their supply chains.
The TWU is also highlighting the entire lack of security screening at most regional airports where QantasLink flies into. Screening does not exist at airports at Armidale, Lord Howe Island and Moree in New South Wales, Port Lincoln and Whyalla in South Australia and Charleville, Blackall, Miles and Longreach in Queensland.
“Airport workers and our cabin crew are contacting us because they are concerned about their own safety and the safety of the travelling public given no checks are being done at these airports. Again while the Federal Government and airport owners like to appear to be concerned about security in reality there are gaping holes in operation,” said Sheldon.
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.
“Our airports are clearly making billions of dollars in profit but are not putting funding into security,” Sheldon said.