The Federal Government has been warned of another 6,000 aviation job losses beyond September if it does not step in to support the industry, this time in ground handling. The warning follows 6,000 Qantas worker redundancies and urgent appeals from unions and employers across the aviation industry for an AviationKeeper payment scheme to keep people in jobs.
As reported in The Australian today, an alliance of six ground handling companies raised the alarm to Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Michael McCormack three weeks ago, to which he acknowledged that aviation has been one of the hardest hit industries but offered no assurance that the government will take steps to avoid those job losses.
Transport Workers’ Union National Secretary Michael Kaine says the Transport Minister’s refusal to listen to the industry he represents will have catastrophic consequences for the economy. “Michael McCormack is burying his head in the sand. All evidence points to the aviation industry suffering the longest and being last to recover from this pandemic. No one, not least the Transport Minister, can be under any illusion that the dozens of aviation companies and the thousands of aviation workers will be able to survive the next year without government intervention.”
On 7 July a cohort of 16 unions and aviation companies wrote to the Federal Government calling for an AviationKeeper payment scheme to ensure the well-trained, experienced aviation workforce will be ready to fly again when air travel resumes. So far, the Federal Government has failed to respond to the letter.
McCormack was also reported to have said ground handling companies should have been looked after by airlines, citing the tax relief they received months ago.
“Now is not the time for McCormack to lead the charge back to market-based dogma in a market that is clearly broken. Clarity, certainty and readiness are what this crucial industry needs and AviationKeeper provides it. Platitudes and weak, desperate references to trickle down solutions will not cut it.
“Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration and Qantas prematurely announced 6,000 redundancies even before a JobKeeper review. Yet McCormack suggests the airlines had the means to not only keep their grounded workforce afloat, but also to prop up ground handling companies suffering the same blow. Airlines, aviation companies and workers have on several occasions appealed to the Federal Government for support and been knocked back, such as the thousands of Dnata workers excluded from JobKeeper by a last-minute loophole. Those workers have now been without pay for months and fear they’ll lose their jobs. How many job losses will it take for the government to step in?” Kaine continued.
The Australian Aviation Ground Handlers Industry Alliance spokesman Bruce Stokes said a 90 per cent increase in air traffic is needed to keep ground handling companies in business beyond September.
Qantas has removed all international flights bar New Zealand from its website until March 28, 2021.
The Transport Worker’s Union and Australian Services Union are running an AviationKeeper advertising campaign to apply pressure to the Federal Government in the lead up to a JobKeeper review announcement.