March 28, 2020

The TWU has called on the Federal Government to take a stake in airlines requiring financial assistance to ensure fairness for passengers and workers, as it announces $298 million for airlines operating regional routes.

The TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the latest financial assistance for airlines continues to ignore the aviation companies that service them and the workers being stood down.

“The Federal Government continues to operate a trickle-down system in aviation by throwing public money at airlines without ensuring a return for taxpayers or the workers in those airlines. It is ignoring the many aviation ground services companies which allow airlines to operate and it ignores the thousands of workers being forced to bear the brunt of the crisis by having to take accrued leave, future leave and unpaid leave,” he said.

“We want to see the Government subside 80% of wages for workers stood down and we want to see the Government ensure that the airlines are managed in a way that benefits the travelling public and workers, not just executives and shareholders. Before any public money is handed over we want to see airlines agree to pay back the leave workers have been forced to take. This must happen before executives get bonuses and before shareholders get dividends. To ensure this, the Federal Government must take a stake in the airlines.,” Kaine added.

A YouGov Galaxy poll this week carried out by the TWU showed a majority of people – 62% – want the Government to take a stake in private companies which require bailouts, with 50% stating that Qantas should be nationalised if the current situation gets worse and only 20% opposed.

The poll also shows the public is very supportive of the Federal Government’s relief to airlines last week, with 68% saying they agree with the $715 million assistance package.

A large majority – 80% – said executive bonuses and shareholder dividends should not be paid until Qantas workers are paid back the accrued and future leave the company is forcing them to take. Almost two-thirds said Qantas should ensure its workers do not have to take unpaid leave.

In 2014, Qantas reported losses of $2.84 billion and sought a bailout from the Government. It forced its workers to take an 18-month wage freeze which it subsequently refused to pay back in terms of its impact on nominal wages and superannuation. A report shows workers will suffer losses of up to $200,000*. Executive pay and bonuses have spiralled since the crisis in Qantas. Just four years after the crisis, the Qantas CEO was named the highest paid CEO in Australia.

  • The Long-Term Consequences of Wage Freezes for Real Wages, Lifetime Earnings, and Superannuation. Centre for Future Work. February 2020.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Philippa Hatton 0418982257

For tv: Michael Kaine is available for interview after 2.30pm in Sydney

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