Jetstar cabin crew from Thailand are working on internal flights for base rates of just $100 per week, as revealed by ABC 730 last night. Annual leave is banned for the first year of work, with some shifts lasting up to 20 hours, while crew struggle to feed themselves while staying over-night for work in Australia.
Safety is being compromised as the overseas crew are not trained to carry out basic functions, such as boarding passengers for a flight.
“The Federal Government is allowing companies to use our immigration and workplace laws to exploit untrained overseas crew. This issue was flagged years ago but instead of addressing it the Government has allowed it to continue and is ignoring the potential catastrophic consequences if something were to go wrong during a flight,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“Passengers travelling in Australia have the right to have trust and confidence in crew on a flight that they can deal with any situation that arises. Employing untrained overseas crew who are on vastly lower rates and are potentially chronically fatigued compromises that trust severely,” he added.
Overseas crew have been told by Jetstar to “politely decline” tasks that they are untrained to perform on domestic flights.
In 2014 the Federal Court said the Fair Work Act as it stood did not cover overseas cabin crew in a case taken by the Fair Work Ombudsman. In 2015 the Federal Government rules Australian airlines could employ overseas cabin crew on two internal flights in Australia.
“The Federal Government likes to talk tough about aviation security but this really rings hollow. Cabin crew are boarding flights in Australia with no clue of the technological system that approves their boarding pass, no idea of the items or baggage that are banned from flights or whether an aggressive or intoxicated passenger is fit to fly or not. This is simply not good enough,” Kaine added.
“The Government has allowed companies to game the system and compromise safety in our skies. We see it with aviation ground services company Aerocare, where staff are forced to sleep at the airports and work while chronically fatigued because of low rates and horrendous split shifts. We are now seeing it with Jetstar employing exploit crew. We are demanding an end to the race to the bottom in aviation,” Kaine added.