Threat to thousands of jobs as Jobkeeper Payment loophole cuts off airport companies

The Transport Workers’ Union is appealing to the Federal Government to urgently examine a loophole precluding companies owned by foreign governments from accessing the Jobkeeper Payment which is threatening thousands of jobs in aviation.

Dnata, owned by the Emirates Group and which carries out 90% of the catering needs of airlines in Australia, has told its 5,500 workers in Australia today that they will not receive the Jobkeeper Payment but may have to apply for lower Jobseeker Payment. Other companies owned by foreign governments such as Swissport, owned by HNA which is controlled by the Chinese Government, are also thought to be ineligible for Jobkeeper Payment.

Michael Kaine TWU National Secretary said jobs in Australia are being threatened because of the loophole.

“This is a devastating blow for thousands of workers in Australia who have been assuming up to now that their jobs were secure and their income was certain because of the JobKeeper Payment. We are writing to the Treasurer today to urgently examine this loophole and its unintended consequences. There are specific cases, such as the Emirates Group, where foreign governments retain a big stake in their aviation sectors which now employ many workers in Australians. We are hopeful the Government can recognise this situation and rectify it,” Kaine said.

“Not only will this hurt workers in Australia it will also hamper efforts to get air travel back up and running when restrictions lift, impacting on our economy. Companies like Dnata carry out behind the scenes work at our airports which gets aircraft into the sky. Their work is vital and thousands depend on it,” he added.

The TWU and other unions, which sit on the committee of inspection in the Virgin voluntary administration process, are pushing the Government for a national plan on aviation which would see it take an equity stake in Virgin and other companies struggling to ensure a viable sector that can guarantee good jobs and a reliable service across Australia.

“What aviation needs right now is the uncertainty taken out of its future. To do this it needs a plan for what things should look like when the Government restrictions are lifted. An important part of this is ensuring that good companies like Dnata are still around when the impact of the pandemic abates which is why it must be allowed to qualify for the Jobkeeper Payment,” Kaine said.

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