May 23, 2019


Workers are demanding the same rate for doing the same job; secure work with regular hours; safety and security as a number one priority, rather than a focus on engaging work to be carried out for the lowest cost possible.


The protest comes as workers and the TWU today serve a claim of demands on Brisbane Airport. A protest is also planned at Sydney Airport’s annual general meeting tomorrow, with meetings planned with Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide airports to deliver the demands.


The claim is part of the plan announced this week by the TWU for widespread industrial action next year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire. The aim of the industrial action and the claim is to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, including airports.


“The Cairns airport protest today is what people can expect from transport workers over the coming year. We will protest and take industrial action to ensure that the race to the bottom in transport ends. Airport workers are struggling on part-time work, some on as few as 15 hours a week, and appalling conditions which see workers forced to sleep at the airports between gruelling split shifts. These conditions impact on safety and security because of the high turnover rate and chronic fatigue. We are demanding that Cairns and other airports share their huge profits and take accountability for the conditions workers endure,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.


North Queensland Airports, which includes Cairns airport, recorded over $140 million revenue and almost $50 million net profit after tax in the year to June 30, 2017. The State government sold Cairns airport for $530 million and it is now valued at $1.38billion.


Australia’s four major airports, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, made over $2.2 billion in profit last year.


“Airport workers have come together and are determined to make their jobs better. We want an end to the situation where groups of workers at every part of the airport, whether on the tarmac or on aircraft, are working on vastly different rates and conditions. We want decent jobs which means we don’t have to constantly struggle,” said airport worker attending the protest.


The TWU has for several years highlighted appalling conditions for airport workers. Ground handling company Aeorcare Swissport has been exposed over workers forced to sleep at the airports, because of low rates and split shifts which see workers forced to stay at the airport for over 15 hours a day while being paid for just six hours.


“Aerocare Swissport is a perfect example of why this claim is necessary: years after the degrading conditions were revealed and the rates and split shifts were thrown out by the courts, the company has changed not one thing about its business model. Its workers are still suffering because of low pay and poor conditions. Airports are profiting from exploitation at companies like Aerocare Swissport and we are determined to hold them to account,” said Kaine.


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