The Transport Workers’ Union is supporting claims by airlines that airports are financially squeezing the aviation industry. But the union says airlines also need to be held to account as they are part of the problem.
Despite high profits at the airports, few jobs are full-time with many workers brought in for as few as three-hour shifts and guaranteed no more than 60 hours a month. The poor quality of jobs impacts on safety and security at the airports. The TWU has made a claim on Australia’s main airports for better jobs and to ensure that workers doing the same job are paid the same rate.
“We agree that airport profits are out of control, the ACCC’s report this year showing that the four main airports made over $2.2 billion in profit proves this. Airports are at the top of the aviation supply chain and they determine the terms and conditions by which all companies operate at the airports. They can and must insist on fair labour standards to stop the degrading conditions for airport workers,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“Airlines are part of the problem also. They contract work out to the likes of Swissport, exposed over workers forced to sleep at airports between grueling split shifts, and have never held them to account over this. Swissport has lost several court cases in a bid to maintain its appalling business model but still it has refused to improve conditions for its workforce. The truth is that both the airports and the airlines are arguing over the spoils of profits while airport workers are crying out for more hours and decent wages,” he added.
“We would like to see a system of regulation so that both airports and airlines at the top are held responsible for conditions for workers. We want to see contracts awarded to companies at the airport because they commit to quality service with safety as the number one focus, not because they will do it for the lowest cost. Because of the appalling working conditions staff turnover rates at the airport are high, resulting in a lack of experienced, trained workers and a high number of people accessing secure areas without full security clearance. Safety and security are being disregarded in the spat over profits and it is time for the Federal Government to step in and regulate this sector,” Kaine said.
Workers have protested at airports around the country in recent months, to end unsafe and unfair working conditions. Baggage handlers, drivers, airline caterers, cleaners, cabin crew, security staff, refuellers, customer service and check-in staff have submitted the claim to airports for better conditions.
The claim is part of the plan announced this week by the TWU for widespread industrial action next year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire. The aim of the industrial action and the claim is to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, including airports.