July 22, 2021


The Federal Government must protect jobs in aviation and needs a national plan to ensure the industry’s survival as lockdowns put it again at risk, the Transport Workers’ Union is warning.

The warning comes as Qantas has emailed workers threatening stand downs without pay and Rex grounds its Boeing 737 fleet and cuts regional flights.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine called for the Federal Government to introduce Aviation Keeper as part of a national plan which should include vaccination and testing of aviation workers.

“Many aviation workers are very worried about what is going to happen with their jobs. They need a guarantee from the Federal Government that will be able to support their families if there are mass stand downs. They want a plan for how their industry can be supported during rolling lockdowns. They are concerned on a daily basis about catching COVID and want priority vaccination and better testing hubs at the airports. We are calling for Aviation Keeper and a national plan on aviation that can see workers and the industry through these difficult times,” he said.

“Financial support for the aviation has been patchy and has come with no conditions attached to meet the aims of a national plan. As a result public money has been squandered and the interests of the naton have not been served. Qantas is receiving $2 billion but used the pandemic to outsource its entire ground operations of 2,500 workers, dragging down safety and service standards as a result. Thousands of stood down workers at Dnata never received a cent of Jobkeeper because of their company’s ownership. Aviation needs support but it must serve the interests of those who matter most: passengers and workers,” Kaine said.

A survey last week showed almost one in every two aviation workers have not been vaccinated. The survey of nearly 800 cabin crew, pilots, cleaners, baggage handlers and ground workers across airlines and aviation companies showed only around one third of aviation workers have had both vaccine shots while 22% have had one shot. As shift workers, aviation workers struggle to meet testing requirements such as those living in three NSW LGAs where workers must get tested every three days.

Qantas outsourced workers at 10 airports including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Alice Springs and Canberra earlier this year despite receiving Jobkeeper to keep them in their jobs. A Federal Court ruling is pending after the TWU challenged the outsourcing.

Alan Joyce received $10.74 million in annual pay last year, according to a report last week by Australian Council of Superannuation Investors on CEO pay. When Qantas announced in 2019 its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

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