Re Virgin bid announcement

The TWU is urging the Federal Government to meet successful bidder Bain and trade unions representing Virgin workers to develop a plan to ensure the long-term survival of the airline.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the union looked forward to working with Bain but that the process needed major Government involvement.

“Both Cyrus and Bain put in serious, strong proposals which indicates the extent to which Virgin is an excellent investment with a committed and experienced workforce. It also shows the vital place Virgin holds in the Australian aviation landscape. Bain put forward a solid bid to secure the administrator’s recommendation and we are happy to work with them on the plan for getting the airline back on its feet. But when we sit down with Bain and the administrators to plan the next steps we know that there are still many uncertainties which will make decision-making very difficult. There is virtually no international travel and domestic air travel is severely curtailed and likely to be so for the foreseeable future. In this context planning for an airline’s future is near impossible,” Kaine said.

“The Federal Government must stabilise the aviation industry with Aviation Keeper, an extension of support beyond September for all aviation workers. Both Virgin and Qantas need financial assistance, support and direction from the Government on weathering the difficult months ahead as air travel limps along. But Government assistance cannot just be an airline package as the companies which service the airlines are also effectively grounded and their workforces stood down. The Government must act urgently on a plan for the aviation sector or risk many thousands of job losses,” he added.

“There are tens of thousands of jobs at stake in Qantas, Virgin and aviation companies like Dnata, Menzies, Gate Gourmet and others. There are many more thousands of workers and businesses in travel and tourism that depend on aviation. The Government needs to square its public statements on supporting the industry with its lack of action. Other Governments have stepped in and devised major plans of intervention to prop up their aviation sector. If the Federal Government wants aviation ready to ensure our economy does not falter then it must do the same,” Kaine said.

Aviation workers have endorsed a national plan they want the Government to implement which would see it take a greater role in regulating the industry, including: equity stakes for struggling businesses; ensuring workers are paid the same rate for the same work; making safety a number one priority; ensuring all airport workers stood down have access to Jobkeeper; and capping CEO pay.

A survey shows 70% of aviation workers have been stood down from their jobs with almost 40% stating they have no income. Over 1,000 cabin crew, airline caterers, cleaners, baggage handlers, ramp workers, security officials, refuellers and drivers responded to the survey with almost 30% stating they have had to access their superannuation to get by. Almost half of respondents are worried they won’t be able to support their families throughout the crisis while 20% say they are worried they will lose their house.

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