Airport workers across Australia today held protests over attempts to introduce industry-wide split shifts.
The move will also have implications for other employee in other employment sectors, like nurses, aged care workers, electricians and shop workers.
Protests were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide airports against the move, orchestrated by aviation ground handling company Aerocare, which is at the centre of a scandal involving below poverty rates and staff sleeping at airports.
“Airport employees are taking a stand today and warning they will not accept being forced to stay at work for up to 17 hours a day while being paid for just six hours. They will not be degraded to the point of having to sleep rough on filthy makeshift bedding or in their cars just so they can get a few extra hours work,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“The aviation industry is highly profitable and there is no reason for staff to be forced onto poverty wages and Third World conditions. The system is clearly broken when employers are allowed to game the system in this way. Airports and airlines must take responsibility for these working conditions since they ultimately benefit from them.”
Aerocare forces staff onto split shifts, despite a ruling by the Fair Work Commission that they are unlawful. The scandal-ridden company, which pays staff below poverty wages, is seeking a ruling from the Federal Court to over-ride the decision. The ruling will impact on all aviation employees and shift workers in other industries.
In March, footage showed that conditions at Aerocare are so poor that staff are forced to sleep at airports.
Working conditions and deliberate understaffing at Aerocare are impacting on safety and security at airports. Records from Sydney International Airport show, 132 injuries were reported over a one year period, among a staff of just 324. At Perth Airport passengers were allowed unsupervised onto a secure airside area to collect their own baggage when one employee was made to unload an aircraft alone.
On Monday the Fair Work Commission rejected Aerocare’s appeal against its scrapping in August of a new enterprise agreement, which again contains below award rates and illegal split shifts.
Australia’s four major airports – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane – reported a record-breaking $1.8bn profit according to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s annual Airport Monitoring Report for 2015-2016.
Click here for images and footage showing conditions and safety breaches at Aerocare: http://www.twu.com.au/aerocare-breaches/