The Transport Workers’ Union has welcomed the move by Qantas to suspend direct flights into China and again urges the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to immediately suspend all incoming flights from China to Australia in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Qantas move follows a TWU call yesterday to suspend all flights from China. It comes comes as the Queensland Government also called for a ban on flights to China, the US has banned entry for people flying from China, Singapore restricts entry for Chinese citizens and as the death toll climbs to over 250 people.
“We welcome the move by Qantas to suspend direct flights into China, though we note it is for logistical reason rather safety reasons. This issue is getting more serious by the hour and it requires a calm but definite response. The Federal Government must act immediately and end flights from China,” Mr Kaine said.
“Our members including baggage handlers, ramp workers, cabin crew, caterers, cleaners and security personnel are concerned about the risks they are forced to endure. They are aware that some flights are being suspended but not all. They are aware that some Governments are taking action in this regard but not the Australian Government. We have written to the Government today outlining our concerns and asking them to show leadership and support airport workers,” Kaine added.
The TWU is also concerned that subcontracting companies carrying out work for major airlines are not taking adequate safety precautions. Ground handling company Swissport which serviced the Tigerair flight this week carrying a passenger infected with the virus has refused to answer questions the TWU asked regarding how workers who were potentially exposed have been supported. The TWU has also written to Qantas requesting the airline withdraw a letter to workers threatening disciplinary action who refused to work on a plane from China this week because of safety fears.
“This is not a time for threats or for refusing information. Workers have the right to be safe at work and the TWU will robustly this right,” Kaine said.