June 9, 2020


Aviation workers are appealing to the Federal Government to an extended “aviation keeper” payment beyond September, as both Qantas and Virgin struggle to keep up as they burn through cash with planes remaining on the ground.

While parts of the economy have been able to reopen, aviation has effectively remained grounded because of international and domestic border closures and restrictions on movement. Qantas is struggling through while receiving funds from the Federal Government while Virgin’s future remains in the balance.

The call for “aviation keeper” comes as a motion is set to go before the Senate tomorrow to overturn a legal change that has shut thousands of aviation workers out of Jobkeeper and threatened their jobs.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Federal Government promised targeted help for certain industries and now was the time to tell aviation it would get the support it needed.

“Aviation workers are crying out for certainty and are appealing to the Federal Government to urgently put in place ‘aviation keeper’ beyond September. Through no fault of their own these workers have seen their jobs ground to a halt and the airports just about shut up. They deserve to know that the Government intends to keep their vital industry afloat so they can continue paying their bills and supporting their families. Qantas is burning through cash, while Virgin clings on to a future that is entirely in the balance. There are several major aviation companies that keep Australian flying which are in a similar position. They are all eagerly waiting to hear that Jobkeeper will be extended to their workers,” Kaine said.

Aviation workers from companies such as Dnata will travel to Canberra tomorrow ahead of the vote attempting to allow them get access to Jobkeeper. The motion has the support of the Labor Party, Green Party and several cross-bench Senators. Aviation workers have written to the Prime Minister and Liberal Senators asking to meet them while they are in Canberra.

“Aviation workers shut out of Jobkeeper want the Prime Minister to hear about their struggles. They want him to know they supported his decisions to put the lives and health of Australians first and put in place restrictions. But they want to tell him they need Jobkeeper so they can keep their jobs and pay their bills. These are hard-working Australians who have paid taxes all their lives and they are only asking for what millions of other Australians like them are receiving,” Kaine added.

A survey shows 70% of aviation workers have been stood down from their jobs with almost 40% stating they have no income. Over 1,000 cabin crew, airline caterers, cleaners, baggage handlers, ramp workers, security officials, refuellers and drivers responded to the survey with almost 30% stating they have had to access their superannuation to get by. Almost half of respondents are worried they won’t be able to support their families throughout the crisis while 20% say they are worried they will lose their house.

Aviation workers have endorsed a national plan they want the Government to implement which would see it take a greater role in regulating the industry, including: equity stakes for struggling businesses; ensuring workers are paid the same rate for the same work; making safety a number one priority; ensuring all airport workers stood down have access to Jobkeeper; and capping CEO pay.

Click here for full survey results.

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