Senate delivers ‘devastating blow’ to aviation workers as TWU urges ‘aviation keeper’

The Transport Workers’ Union has slammed Senators who refused to give aviation workers access to Jobkeeper in a vote today, warning the move has threatened thousands of jobs across the country.

The Union is now urging the Federal Government to implement a targeted ‘aviation keeper’ to extend support beyond September and save jobs at the airports and in the airlines.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said thousands of workers are bitterly disappointed at the Senate vote which was narrowly defeated in a tied vote which failed without a majority. The Labor Party, Greens and several crossbench Senators supported the vote with the Liberal Party, Nationals and One Nation voting against it.

“This is a devastating blow for aviation workers who now have been left without an income for several months. They pay their taxes, they work hard and they cannot understand why Liberal Party, National and One Nation Senators refused to support them. These workers feel very left down by the Federal Government and its supporters in the Senate and they know their jobs are in peril,” he said.

“We urge the Federal Government to devise a targeted ‘aviation keeper’ for the industry which is in grave danger because of the pandemic. Aviation keeper should include all aviation workers, regardless of their company’s structure, and it should be extended beyond September to reflect the reality that there is a long road ahead for recovery in aviation. If the Government continues to bury its head in the sand and ignore the industry’s problems companies will collapse and jobs will be lost. This will have huge consequences for the tourism and travel industries and the economy more broadly,” he added.

Thousands of aviation workers, including those at Dnata, found out just last month they were being shut out of Jobkeeper, because of their company structure, including foreign government ownership. The Federal Government made changes shutting these workers out of Jobkeeper at the same time as it allowed priests, nuns and pastors access to the payment. Media today revealed one Catholic Church diocese has asked priests to donate half the money back to the church.

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.

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.

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