Aerocare, which has a staff of 3,000 across Australia’s airports and carries out ground services work for domestic and foreign airlines, is at the centre of the serious breaches which are linked to understaffing and cost-cutting.
At Perth Airport passengers in May were allowed airside to collect their own baggage, a major safety incident which could have resulted in death, injury or damage to other passengers, ground crew or aircraft. Perth Airport has confirmed the Aerocare staff member involved has been disciplined but refused to reveal if any measures were taken against Aerocare to ensure a similar incident won’t happen again.
“A worker left on his own to unload 600kg of baggage gets terminated by Perth Airport, while at the same time the airport take part in a cover-up for Aerocare, whose deliberate under-staffing is compromising security and safety. Airport owners are clearly running a protection racket for Aerocare which make millions of dollars in profit off the backs of poorly paid under-resourced staff. Meanwhile the Federal Government sits on its hands and defends Aerocare. Security and safety at our airports is not being taken seriously. This is simply not good enough,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Other revelations about breaches at Aerocare include employees working without security checks on temporary and visitor passes. Photographs from Canberra Airport show how a vehicle used to tow planes was driven for days despite having a smashed windscreen, whilst carrying out dangerous work in low visibility. Photographs from Brisbane Airport show workers without the appropriate safety equipment performing their duties on the tarmac while standing on vehicles and bollards.
Aerocare was at the centre of revelations in March and April over workers on low pay and split shifts forced to sleep at airports. The company rosters on too few staff to carry out duties such as baggage, catering and cleaning of planes with security and safety corners cut. It also means Aerocare workers have a high injury rate. At Sydney International Airport 132 injury reports were filed over a one-year period among a staff of just 326. Rates of turnover at the company are also high, further compromising security given a constant lack of experienced staff.
“Aerocare has lied and orchestrated a cover-up each time a new horror has been revealed about what is going on at the company. Workers fearful of losing work at Aerocare for speaking out are nonetheless contacting the TWU to blow the whistle on these horrors. Security and safety at our airports is too important to ignore or just take this company on their word. The evidence is there: this company must be investigated and the findings must be made public,” Sheldon added.
Further photos and documents on this incident can be found at: http://www.twu.com.au/aerocare_breaches/