June 12, 2020


The Transport Workers’ Union has welcomed the reopening of the Queensland and SA borders next month, providing much needed help for the aviation industry, but urged a standardisation of openings and protections at airports across Australia.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the reopening of domestic borders will allow aviation workers to get back to their jobs, but that it should be done at the same time across the country and ensure workers and passengers are protected.

“Aviation workers will be delighted to hear borders are reopening as this will help get planes back into the air and workers back at the jobs they love. What will disappoint them is the staggered reopening where Queensland will reopen on July 10, SA on July 20 and no sign of WA reopening. We also want to see the Federal Government setting down standarised rules at airports and on airlines to protect workers and passengers. This should include temperature checks, mandatory masks and mandatory hand sanitising. What we don’t want to see is different airlines and companies implementing different systems that put people at risk,” Kaine said.

The TWU warned that despite border reopenings aviation would not be back to full capacity and that the Federal Government had to implement a national plan to ensure the industry’s survival.

“Reopening borders will just be the start and it won’t mean a return to work for thousands of workers as there is a long road ahead. Both they and their companies need the certainty right now that they can still hold onto their jobs which is why the Government needs a plan for the industry. We are urging that the Government guarantees aviation keeper beyond the September cut off for Jobkeeper. We also urge the Government to set down the help it will give Virgin, Qantas and other companies struggling to keep going while the sector remains on its knees,” he added.

The OECD yesterday backed the call to extend Jobkeepr, saying “some income support measures may need to be extended beyond their September expiry date”.

Media reported this week that a letter to the Federal Government this week from Virgin’s administrators warned that prospective bidders might pull out in the absence of government support for the airline industry.

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.

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.

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