PROTESTS AT MAJOR AIRPORTS AS COURT CASE BEGINS ON SPLIT SHIFTS FOR ALL AVIATION EMPLOYEES
Hundreds of airport employees and TWU members have today protested at all major Australian airports as a Federal Court case opened to have the award re-interpreted and allow every aviation employer to force split shifts and poverty conditions on all aviation staff.
TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon and TWU (VIC/TAS BRANCH) Secretary John Berger led the Melbourne protest – held at the Qantas domestic terminal.
Protesters have called on airports, airlines and Governments to end the race to the bottom in aviation and ensure quality jobs.
The court case is being taken by Aerocare, which is at the centre of a scandal involving below poverty rates and staff sleeping at airports. But the case will have implications for all aviation employees and workers in other industries including nurses, aged care workers, electricians and shop workers.
“It is immoral that airports and airlines make billions of dollars in profit while employees in their supply chains struggle below the poverty line and are forced to sleep at airports because of low rates and split shifts,” Tony said.
“It is immoral that Governments are sitting on their hands and refusing to hold airports and airlines to account for these conditions. Today workers are taking a stand and saying it is time to hold this immoral behaviour to account.
“The system is clearly broken when employers are allowed to game the system and profit from workers being forced onto degrading conditions. It is up to Governments to change the broken rules because the community are demanding it.”
Working conditions and deliberate understaffing at airports are impacting on safety and security.
John said that Aerocare was one company that believed workers should be paid less and bosses should have more power.
“This one company continues to win contracts with airlines purely on low prices. In an industry awash with money workers are being ripped off – forced to sleep in their cars between shifts, or as we saw in Sydney, on slum like beds in the bowels of the airport,” he said.
Its low prices are only possible because they pay wages that are up to $1100.00 per month below the award.
But its not just this one company that is to blame.
“Clients continue to turn a blind eye to their practices so they can save a few dollars. Airlines know about Aerocare and how they operate but they continue to award them contracts and make no effort to enforce fair and safe working standards on them,” John said.
Records from Sydney International Airport show, 132 injuries were reported over a one-year period, among a Aerocare staff 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 Aerocare’s new enterprise agreement, which again contains below award rates and illegal split shifts.
If those in power choose not to act, then we will. We will use our power as airport workers to change the system and to change the rules to ensure fairness for every airport worker.
You are all on notice. We will not be silenced, we will not go away.
We will campaign until those with power support the airport workers that make the Australian aviation industry fly.