February 10, 2021


Aviation workers will tell a Senate inquiry today they fear they will lose their jobs without an extension and expansion of Jobkeeper.

Qantas and Dnata workers will also warn that low wages and a lack of hours are destroying livelihoods and that regulation is needed to ensure the industry’s survival, provide well paid jobs and ensure workers are paid the same wages for doing the same work.

The Federal Government shut thousands of Dnata workers out of Jobkeeper because of their company’s structure, resulting in 1,000 redundancies. Qantas is outsourcing thousands of workers despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the public wage subsidy to support jobs.

The inquiry will also hear from a worker stood down by Qantas over concerns about the potential exposure of cabin cleaners to COVID-19 which were backed by Safe Work NSW.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said aviation workers needed certainty beyond March and that for the future, profits and CEO salaries should not be allowed to continue to increase while workers struggle.

“We are a matter of weeks out from the end of Jobkeeper after which the jobs of aviation workers will literally fall off a cliff. Workers are baffled that the Prime Minister has yet to extend Jobkeeper in an industry so directly hit by Federal Government restrictions closing the international borders. Workers are waiting for Scott Morrison to announce Aviation Keeper so they can keep their jobs and their industry can survive,” he said.

“Beyond COVID workers also need assurances that things won’t go back to business as usual. Airlines have had public money pumped into them to keep flying while aviation wages have been picked up by the taxpayer. The focus must for the future be on addressing the needs of those who matter most: the flying public and workers. We need a Commission on Safe and Secure Skies to ensure decent jobs and to ensure that workers can get the same pay for doing the same job. Efficient, safe and reliable air travel, including for regional routes, must be the priority. To do this the Federal Government must regulate the industry,” he added.

Assistant National Secretary of the Australian Services Union Emeline Gaske said there was no better case study than aviation to demonstrate the destructive impact the Government’s industrial relations policies.

“Workers are already struggling to cope with massive uncertainty about their future. Many have sold their homes and other assets, dipped into their super and these laws only make things even more insecure,” Ms Gaske said.

“The Federal Government’s policies make workers worse off at a time when we should be giving them certainty and job security. These policies are reckless and will leave people on less pay or in the unemployment queue at Centrelink which will also strangle Australia’s economic recovery.”

Over recent weeks Qantas baggage handlers, ramp workers and cabin cleaners have been pushed out of their jobs as part of an outsourcing plan for all of the airline’s 2,500 ground crew. The TWU has taken a Federal Court case to stop the outsourcing, which could overturn the move by Qantas.

The TWU along with other unions is taking Qantas to the High Court over its misuse of Jobkeeper and its refusal to pay sick workers the leave they have built up.

Qantas revealed in its latest annual report it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

In February last year a report by the ACCC showed the four main airports had profits of $2.3 billion.

Click here for the TWU’s submission to the Senate inquiry

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