The TWU has suspended negotiations on new enterprise agreements at Virgin following reports that the CEO Paul Scurrah has been sacked and that the airline will be dragged into a low cost model.
Workers suspended talks as a scheduled meeting got underway at midday today pending clarification on developments. The TWU is writing to Virgin’s new owners Bain Capital seeking confirmation about changes at the airline and to the Federal Government appealing again for it to protect jobs at Virgin.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the reports were a worrying development for the airline.
“This is a serious and worrying development. The ink is not yet dry on the sale of Virgin and it appears that private equity firm Bain Equity are behaving as we feared: ripping out the heart of Virgin and reneging on promises to the Australian people. We are suspending negotiations on enterprise agreements while we seek clarification on these developments. For our part, we are engaged in talks in good faith. If the plan and scope of the airline as outlined in August by Bain Capital has already been scrapped then this is a serious betrayal that must be addressed,” he said.
“We want answers from the Federal Government also on these developments and how it expects to save jobs at Virgin. If confirmed it shows how the Federal Government has stood by and allowed a private equity firm to take over one of Australia’s most valuable assets and renege on commitments. Scott Morrison and his ministers have continually bleated on about preferring a ‘market-led solution’ to Virgin and refused to guarantee its future. The Federal Government appointed an observer to Virgin’s administration but appears to have done very little. Virgin workers, the Australian travelling public and the many businesses which depend on the airline are waiting for answers as to what the future is now,” Kaine added.
The sale of Virgin to Bain Capital went through in September following commitments made in August to a fuller capacity airline, maximising jobs, retaining regional operation Vara, tiered cabin classes, airport lounges and the airline’s international arm.
The TWU along with other aviation unions has written repeatedly to the Federal Government appealing to it to save jobs and businesses in aviation and to put in place a plan for the industry’s recovery.