Aviation workers urge extension to jobkeeper, but with strict conditions

Aviation workers are urging the Federal Government to save their jobs by extending Jobkeeper and developing Aviation Keeper, as tax office figures show a core group of workers still need the wage subsidy. But strict conditions banning dividends and capping executive salaries should be set for companies accessing an extended scheme.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said stress and anxiety is piling on aviation workers as the date for the end of Jobkeeper fast approaches.

“Aviation workers are desperate for a signal from the Federal Government that it will protect their jobs and extend financial support to their ailing industry. It would make no sense to contemplate relief for tourism without Aviation Keeper. The Federal Government’s own restrictions closing the international borders have shut down part of aviation while ongoing internal border closures are also contributing to the mass stand downs. Aviation workers support any measures that stop the virus spreading but they are crying out for assurances that their jobs will be saved,” he said.

“The skills that will be lost if further mass redundancies hit the industry will hamper the recovery when the vaccine rolls out and air travel resumes. We are urging the Federal Government to be proactive and tell aviation workers now that there is a future for their jobs,” he added.

The TWU is urging the Federal Government to develop Aviation Keeper, an extension to Jobkeeper but to also to expand it to include workers shut out of the subsidy because of their companies’ structure.

“Thousands of aviation workers such as Dnata workers have been shut out of Jobkeeper, they have exhausted their leave and raided their super to keep going. These workers have paid taxes all their lives and should be included in the wage subsidy scheme,” he said.

The TWU also wants to see conditions attached to companies accessing Aviation Keeper to ensure a return for the taxpayer.

“We want to see changes to ensure aviation companies retain workers and rule out outsourcing, there should be a ban on dividends for shareholders and a ban on bonuses and cap salaries for senior executives. Companies accessing significant public funds and having their wages bills paid should meet community expectations and be forced to give back,” Kaine added.

Despite receiving over a billion dollars in Jobkeeper and other financial supports, Qantas is outsourcing 2,500 workers and replacing them with workers on lower wages and conditions.

Qantas is also refusing to pay sick workers the leave they have built up and is misusing the Jobkeeper scheme to pay workers less. The TWU and other unions are taking Qantas to the High Court over both of these issues and the TWU has taken a Federal Court case to stop the outsourcing.

Qantas revealed in its latest annual report it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

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