The Transport Workers’ Union has taken action to lift Aerocare employees off low wages and poor conditions that force them to sleep at airports and in their cars between illegal split shifts.
The union has today applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the current Aerocare enterprise agreement, which allows for low rates, three-hour shifts, split shifts and 60 hours work guaranteed per month, with no weekly guarantee. These working conditions have impoverished Aerocare employees and are leading to high rates of injuries, and safety and security risks at airports.
“The conditions Aerocare employees work under have no place in modern-day Australia. This level of degrading conditions is wrong and also dangerous,” TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said.
Aerocare employees can be at work for up to 17 hours a day while being paid for as little as six hours, because of split shifts which are illegal under the award. Staff injury rates are high as is the turnover rate, which is posing a serious threat to safety and security because of a lack of experienced and trained staff.
“The TWU is calling on Aerocare to provide fair conditions and rates at industry standard for its employees. These are hard-working aviation staff and they deserve better. We are also calling on airlines and airports which contract work to Aerocare and which profit from their model to take responsibility and demand improvements in their supply chains,” he added.
The Fair Work Commission rejected a new Aerocare enterprise agreement because of below award rates, illegal split shifts and because 700 casual workers were prevented from voting on the agreement.
Concerns were raised over the vote on the Aerocare agreement, which was held after a rushed vote over the Easter weekend. The vote was not a secret ballot or done independently but was carried out on the internal online system where voters were sent an email confirming how they had cast their ballot. Aerocare confirmed in a letter ahead of the vote that there would be “no scrutineers” overseeing the process.
“Aerocare are trying to silence its employees through its bogus voting system and by trying to bully and intimidate them. But these workers are demanding better and are joining the industry-wide fight for change,” Sheldon said.
Serious questions have been raised over safety and security at Aerocare. Video footage shows a bedding area at Sydney airport where Aerocare workers slept between split shifts. At Sydney International Airport, 134 injuries were reported among the Aerocare staff of just 326 over a one year period. There was a major security breach at Perth airport in May when passengers were allowed airside to collect their own baggage because of understaffing by Aerocare. Photographs have revealed an Aerocare vehicle used to tow aircraft at Canberra airport was in use for several days despite being unroadworthy.
The aviation industry is highly profitable. The four main airports last year made $1.8 billion in profit. Just last week Qantas posted full year profits of $1.4 billion.