July 25, 2018

The TWU is warning that flying in Australia will become less safe if a company wins federal court approval for split shifts for airport workers.

The court case taken by Aerocare, recently bought out by Swissport, opened yesterday and follows an exposé of staff on split shifts forced to sleep at airports. The system means workers can be at the airport for up to 15 hours a day – but only get paid for as little as six-hours work. 

“Aerocare workers are forced by their company to struggle: their rates are below the award, they are given as few hours as possible and they work split shifts which mean they are chronically fatigued. This is already impacting on safety and security. If Aerocare have their way other companies will be allowed to introduce split shifts, further risking safety at our airports,” said TWU Acting National Secretary Michael Kaine. 

Records from Sydney International Airport show 132 injuries were reported over a one-year period, among Aerocare workforce of just 324. At Perth Airport passengers were allowed unsupervised onto a secure airside area to collect their own baggage when one Aerocare employee was made to unload an aircraft alone. 

The Fair Work Commission last year rejected an Aerocare enterprise agreement because it included low rates and split shifts. An analysis by the TWU shows Aerocare pays its workers up to $1,000 per month below the award. 

“The aviation industry is profiting while airport employees are struggling on low rates, poor conditions and part-time hours. The public is ultimately losing out because of the threats to safety. The Federal Government is refusing to hold companies like Aerocare to account while airports and airlines make billions of dollars in profit,” Michael added. 

Australia’s four major airports – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane – reported a record-breaking over $2 billion profit according to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s annual Airport Monitoring Report. 

Aerocare workers are guaranteed just 60 hours per month, with no weekly guarantees. The company has admitted to employees to paying than the minimum rate on Christmas Day and at Easter. 

In addition to high injury rates and safety and security breaches, Aerocare staff report being forced back to work while still injured. Aerocare managers accompanying injured staff into doctors’ surgeries during appointments.


Click here for pay-slips and timesheets for Aerocare workers showing split shifts.


Click here for images and footage showing conditions and safety breaches at Aerocare.

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