Qantas cuts to flight crew will risk safety & service, workers warn

Qantas flight crew are warning cuts to crew numbers will risk passenger and crew safety and will drag down service standards.

The warning comes as media report today that Qantas has already started to operate flights Sydney to Melbourne with four instead of five crew.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said crew are concerned about operating flights with reduced numbers.

“Qantas is again risking safety and service and using the pandemic crisis to kill off jobs. Crew are telling us that if they are forced to operate flights with a fifth less staff, serving alcohol and hot meals, that this will pose a safety risk to crew and passengers. They are concerned that rushing around a plane with heavy carts to haul will result in people getting injured. They are also concerned that reduced crew means they simply won’t be able to get to everyone on the flight for service. We have yet again another example of Qantas taking over a billion dollars in public money to help it through the crisis but then reducing service and safety standards for the travelling community and trashing jobs,” Kaine said.

“Flight crew know the role they have is serious in keeping passengers safe on flights. They do not want a situation where safety is compromised and things go wrong because they simply don’t have the crew to deal with a situation. Airlines should not be able to make these decisions which affect safety and service arbitrarily without regulator consultation. We urge the Federal Government to step in and set standards to hold the likes of Qantas to account. Without a strategic plan for aviation the Federal Government risks allowing aviation to change utterly for the worse because Qantas are seeing the opportunity in using the pandemic to carry out changes it has wanted to for years,” he said.

In addition to slashing numbers of flight crew, Qantas is killing off the 2,500 jobs of all of its baggage handlers, ramp workers and cabin cleaners, announced just last week. It said that Swissport, owned by HNA which is controlled by the Chinese Government, would get the lion’s share of the work at almost 1,000 of the outsourced jobs. Swissport, which has been exposed over workers forced to sleep at the airports, has failed over almost five years to get a new enterprise agreement in place, with the Fair Work Commission rejecting successive deals because they do not meet minimum standards.

A bid by ground handling workers and assisted by EY was cheaper than the market rate and came with cost savings and efficiencies but was still rejected by Qantas, just days after it was submitted.

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

Sick Qantas workers were left devastated recently after the airline’s refusal to allow them to use the leave they built up over years was backed by the Federal Court. Qantas was found by the Federal Court previously to be misusing Jobkeeper, refusing to pay workers for the overtime and weekends they have worked.

The Senate recently passed a motion setting up an inquiry into the future of the aviation industry. It is expected to look at Government and industry failings to date and set out recommendations for support into the future.

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