TWU statement on Virgin

The Transport Workers’ Union is urging the Federal Government to save thousands of jobs at Virgin Australia and work with administrators in the event that they are appointed for a solution on the company.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said: “This is a terrifying moment for thousands of Virgin workers. The airline has two decades of providing decent jobs, a safe working environment and excellent service for the travelling public. It is a viable and much needed business and without it Australia will struggle to get its economy back on track once the crisis abates. There is still time for the Federal Government to work on an investment plan to get through this period of crisis and taxpayers will get a double benefit. The Government will retain a competitive aviation market and they will get a return on their equity stake.”

“The Prime minister has promoted the concept of hibernation, of keeping viable businesses afloat through this crisis. That must include Virgin and the only way to do that is a government equity stake in this business.

“Countries around the world have recognised the extraordinary circumstances that the aviation is in and where they have stepped in and saved jobs. If the Federal Government does not move to save Virgin the Prime Minister must explain why Virgin workers don’t matter? Why don’t their families who depend on them matter?”

The Transport Workers’ Union earlier today urged the Victorian, NSW and Federal Governments to financially assist Virgin, following a pledge by the Queensland Premier for $200 million aid for the airline.

In letters to the State and Federal Government Kaine, the Vic/Tas Branch Secretary John Berger and the NSW Branch Secretary Richard Olsen state:

“This is a very uncertain time for Virgin workers. While all of Australia is experiencing the stresses of altered life, with many people stood down from their jobs, the anxiety among Virgin staff is heightened given the airline’s difficulties and the fact that they worsen in a very public way on a daily basis. We ask that you consider these workers and to examine your state’s capacity to give them and their families the certainty they need about their future. We believe it is also in the interest of the travelling public that Virgin remains a viable airline to ensure an efficient, reliable service right across Australia. A monopoly by one airline after this crisis ends will hamper the nation’s ability to restart and get back to where it was.”

The Federal Government faces a potential entitlements and redundancy bill of $800 million if it allows Virgin collapses.

A crisis roundtable on Friday involving Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah and all trade unions representing airport workers heard a call for the Federal Government to take an equity stake in return for bailing out airlines.

Click here for the letters.

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