TWU slams aviation support announcement & calls for conditions for companies

Transport Workers' Union

The Transport Workers’ Union has criticised today’s announcement on support for aviation workers and the industry saying it must go further and must come with conditions.

The TWU wants to see a wage subsidy extended to all aviation workers including ground workers, not just some cabin crew and pilots, and that companies must commit to retaining workers and capping executive salaries.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said all aviation workers need certainty right now but that the taxpayer must have confidence in extending support.

“The Government has failed to learn from past mistakes with half-baked, substandard subsidy and supports which don’t prevent axing and outsourcing of workers. All aviation workers are fearful of their future right now. Lockdowns in Australia’s biggest cities affect aviation workers right across the country, not just workers in some states and not just cabin crew and pilots. A wage subsidy cannot cover 50% of just some workers,” he said.

“The Government must tie public funding to strict conditions. It cannot keep extending supports to fly routes, pay wages and waive charges and fees without guaranteeing that workers cannot be outsourced and that executives won’t pay themselves millions. The public needs confidence that its funding is going to benefit the aviation sector and workers in it, not boost company shares,” he added.

“There are serious questions about the Federal Government persisting with the cheap flights scheme when a sizeable portion of Australia can’t even leave their houses. It is unclear what has happened to funding that has already gone to flights which people weren’t able to take. Aviation needs a serious strategy not policy on the hop,” Kaine said.

Qantas continues to be the major winner in Federal Government announcements on support for aviation. The airline is receiving at least $2 billion in wage subsidies, financial support and fee-waiving from the Federal Government. Its international crew have been receiving a wage subsidy despite Jobkeeper being killed off, with Virgin not currently employing international crew. Virgin still employs ground crew which won’t receive today’s wage subsidy while Qantas axed and outsourced all 2,500 ground workers. On Friday a Federal Court ruled Qantas the outsourcing was unlawful and that the airline used the “transformational opportunity” presented by the pandemic to target the workforce because they were about to bargain for better wages.

Alan Joyce received $10.74 million in total annual earnings last year, according to a report two weeks ago by Australian Council of Superannuation Investors on CEO pay. When Qantas announced in 2019 its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

A survey shows three-quarters of Qantas workers have not been able to get full-time work following the outsourcing.

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