The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for a safety investigation into Qantas’ ground operations after a vehicle used to load baggage crashed into a Qantas plane at Perth Airport after its brakes failed, leaving extensive damage. The worker operating the vehicle narrowly escaped injury and was trapped under the plane until it was moved.
The TWU has written to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and WorkSafe WA following the damage, with incidents at other airports also raising questions about Qantas’s move to outsource its entire ground operations.
The other incidents include pilots being given dangerous and incorrect baggage weight information, understaffing of ground operations with teams halved, the use of old equipment around aircraft and problems including excessive delays with baggage at airports. A child’s electric wheelchair was recently smashed at Sydney Airport after it was incorrectly placed on a baggage belt.
The Qantas plane was damaged in Perth after it had arrived from Melbourne on Thursday May 21st.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said an investigation into safety standards at Qantas following the incidents is critical to ensure the airline is taking responsibility for worker and passenger safety after outsourcing all of its 2,500 baggage, ramp and cleaning workers in recent months.
“This is a major safety breach and could have resulted in the injury or death of workers and passengers. The extensive damage to the aircraft in Perth follows concerns about other incidents around the country, including dangerous understaffing, incorrect information being communicated to pilots about baggage weight on aircraft and workers forced to operate old equipment. We even have heart breaking stories of a child’s electric wheelchair smashed out of use at Sydney Airport after it fell from a baggage belt it should never have been put on. We demand an investigation into what is happening at Qantas given that workers, passengers and safety are being failed so badly,” he said.
“Qantas may have outsourced its ground work but it must take full responsibility for what is happening. Qantas took the irresponsible decision to outsource its entire ground operations, choosing to cut costs at the expense of worker and passenger safety. Workers warned this would happen and the Federal Government and the Qantas board stood by and allowed it to occur,” Kaine said.
“We call on the Federal Government today to start tying conditions to the $2 billion of public funds it is pumping into Qantas since the pandemic hit. This money should not be about boosting the Qantas share price and making Qantas executives and investors richer. It should be about ensuring excellent standards at Australia’s biggest airline and guaranteeing that safety is the number one priority. That is clearly not happening and it is time for the Federal Government to act,” said Kaine.
A Federal Court ruling is pending on the outsourcing of 2,000 Qantas ground workers which the TWU argued is illegal under the Fair Work Act.
Last week Qantas announced that it will cut more jobs and impose a 2-year wage freeze on workers, despite receiving $2 billion in federal public funding.