Budget ignores workers’ need for national plan for aviation: TWU

Transport Workers' Union

The Transport Workers’ Union has said the Morrison Government’s failure to include a national plan for aviation in last night’s Federal Budget will slow the recovery of the beleaguered industry decimated by two hellish pandemic years.

Aviation has suffered a mass exodus of skilled workers with over 12,500 jobs lost through redundancies and illegal outsourcing by Qantas. With no new funding set aside for the creation of a national recovery plan, the industry remains exposed to external shocks like covid variants, exorbitant fuel costs, natural disasters and international unrest.

Since the start of the pandemic, the TWU has been calling for a national plan for aviation to support workers and airlines through COVID, and rebuild aviation fairly as hard borders came down. TWU calls included the Federal Government imposing conditions on taxpayer funding given to airlines, caps on executive salaries and a plan to reverse skills drain caused by the mass exodus of workers during the pandemic.

The TWU wants to see a Safe and Secure Skies Commission put in place to lift standards at the airport and end spiralling underemployment, with stressed out workers doing the same jobs on vastly different rates and conditions, jeopardising safety.

Part of any plan for aviation must include practical measures to reduce COVID risks in airports, including the provision of free and accessible rapid tests for aviation workers. Workers called for measures such as these to be implemented in September last yearbefore COVID restrictions eased; a request the Prime Minister arrogantly ignored.

Aviation workers have battled uncertainty about the industry’s future throughout the pandemic, grappling with rolling stand downs, ground workers being deliberately excluded from JobKeeper, above-the-wing workers having to cash in annual leave entitlements or cash out superannuation to pay the bills, and illegal outsourcing.

At the same time, the Federal Government has pumped billions in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare into airlines with no strings attached. Qantas alone received $856 million in JobKeeper – a payment intended to keep workers connected to their jobs – at the same time it illegally outsourced its entire ground operations.

TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh said aviation workers had again been forgotten by Scott Morrison.

“For two years, Scott Morrison has been missing in action as COVID smashed aviation and the lives of thousands of workers were thrown into a tailspin. He’s doled out corporate welfare so his mates can bank outrageous executive bonuses at the same time he deliberately excluded ground crew from targeted aviation support.

“Aviation families flicking through the Budget Papers would be disappointed but not surprised: yet again, the Prime Minister’s refused to commit meaningful funding to support aviation’s rebuild.

“Workers deserve a national plan which puts them at the centre of rebuilding aviation. To do that, workers need a Commission with powers to lift standards throughout aviation and protect secure jobs. Complimenting a Commission must be funded programs to support workers retrain and reconnect to the jobs they lost during the pandemic, and targeted spending to reduce COVID risks and maintain public confidence in air travel”.

“The Federal Budget provides no blueprint to shore up aviation’s long-term future, particularly as we stare down future variants and international tension. It’s yet another reminder that Scott Morrison is no friend of aviation workers”, McIntosh said.

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