A recent TWU survey of 165 workers has revealed that over three quarters of Swissport workers, who carry out the bulk of Qantas’ illegally outsourced ground work, are considering leaving the industry if chronic understaffing, shocking pay and conditions and safety concerns don’t improve.
The TWU will write to CASA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, renewing calls to investigate Qantas’ supply chain after workers reveal serious concerns about safety and working conditions, including:
– 81% concerned there aren’t enough staff
– 62% have been so fatigued at work they’ve worried about a safety incident occurring
– 80% feel under pressure to rush
– 41% have been injured at work
– 90% are part-time or casual
One worker said, “Swissport is haemorrhaging staff faster than they can replace them. It is a toxic work environment and we are not fairly looked after.”
Pressure to rush was also a significant concern: “They say “don’t rush” then come at you aggressively over every single minute of delay.”
Another revealed that “Accidents are going unreported due to a known lack of response from management as they can’t afford to lose more staff.”
The survey follows a dossier of safety incidents recently revealed by the TWU, including firearms left on arrivals carousels, stairs removed while passenger doors were open, vehicle collisions on the tarmac and cargo doors left open on planes.
A Swissport memo in the dossier acknowledged understaffing as a key safety issue, saying: “The business is acutely aware that our human resource levels are simply not at a sustainable level to meet the ongoing demand from the airlines.”
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the serious concerns from workers show an industry in crisis.
“Workers are facing enormous pressure from all sides: the only way to get enough hours to stay afloat is to pick up any extra shift going on back-to-back days, they’re fatigued and pressured to rush doing the jobs of three or four people because rosters are so understaffed. Almost half have been injured, and the possibility of a catastrophic incident occurring is around the corner.”
“We’ve already seen a mass exodus in aviation because of illegal Qantas outsourcing. Now those who are still in the industry are questioning whether they can afford to stay, both financially and for their own health and safety. Ground handling companies under a squeeze from Qantas’ low-cost contracts can’t attract new staff to insecure work with minimal wages and conditions.”
Kaine said the Federal Government must step in to address the ongoing aviation crisis.
“What we’ve got is a structural issue in aviation that needs Federal Government intervention. We need to stop this obsession with executive bonuses at the expense of workers and the travelling public, and the way to do that is a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to re-balance our industry.”
Swissport ground workers are preparing to begin bargaining for a new enterprise agreement in December.