The Transport Workers’ Union has written to the Victorian, NSW and Federal Governments urgently appealing to them to financially assist Virgin. The move follows a pledge by the Queensland Premier for $200 million aid for the airline.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said now was the time for the states and the Federal Government to decide on Virgin’s fate.
“The choice is to save 16,000 jobs and it is about whether to consign Australia to a monopoly by one airline which will mean the country will struggle to get back on its feet. We welcome the announcement by the Queensland State Government and we urge the NSW and Victorian premiers and the Federal Government to follow suit. Virgin workers need certainty about their futures and the travelling public needs assurances that our economy will not be allowed to fall apart,” he said.
“Governments around the world are stepping up and supporting their aviation industry. Australia is an outlier on this and as we approach the eleventh hour on Virgin’s survival now is the time for a bold stance,” he added.
In letters to the State and Federal Government Kaine, the Vic/Tas Branch Secretary John Berger and the NSW Branch Secretary Richard Olsen state:
“This is a very uncertain time for Virgin workers. While all of Australia is experiencing the stresses of altered life, with many people stood down from their jobs, the anxiety among Virgin staff is heightened given the airline’s difficulties and the fact that they worsen in a very public way on a daily basis. We ask that you consider these workers and to examine your state’s capacity to give them and their families the certainty they need about their future. We believe it is also in the interest of the travelling public that Virgin remains a viable airline to ensure an efficient, reliable service right across Australia. A monopoly by one airline after this crisis ends will hamper the nation’s ability to restart and get back to where it was.”
The Federal Government faces a potential entitlements and redundancy bill of $800 million if it allows Virgin collapses.
A crisis roundtable on Friday involving Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah and all trade unions representing airport workers heard a call for the Federal Government to take an equity stake in return for bailing out airlines.