Government-owned Air Terminal Services last week locked out its ground crew, including baggage handlers, check-in staff, engineers and caterers, after they attended a meeting over mismanagement and appalling conditions at the company, including sexual harassment and staff driven into poverty because of an 11-year pay freeze.
The TWU is calling on the Federal Government to prevent visas from being issued to workers sent from Australia to Fiji to replace the locked out employees.
“This dispute is serious and is already affecting operations at airports with reports that airline passengers are being asked to bring their own food on board. Travellers to Fiji from Australia need to be aware of this before booking flights or accommodation,” said Tony Sheldon, TWU National Secretary and chair of International Transport Workers’ Federation road transport section.
“The Transport Workers’ Union of Australia is fully supportive of these locked-out workers over bullying and intimidation by Air Terminal Services. For 11 years they have endured a freeze on wages despite living costs going up. They endure sexual harassment which goes unrecognised and unchecked. When they take a stand and demand their rights the response from Air Terminal Services is a lock-out. This is a disgraceful way to treat hard-working transport workers and shareholders, since the employees own 49% of the company,” Sheldon added.
“The Federal Government needs to support these workers in their fight for basic human rights and ensure workers are not sent from Australia to replace them. I also call on the Federal Government to put pressure on the Fijian Government which is clearly behind these human rights abuses,” he said.