Aerocare has responded to a Transport Workers Union (TWU) protest that took place across the country yesterday.
Airport workers called on airports to address low wages and inconsistent hours, according to a statement from TWU.
They were also seeking to draw attention to what they see as deliberate understaffing, claiming it causes injuries and poor working conditions.
Michael Kaine, TWU’s national secretary accused airports of keeping employees “constantly desperate for more hours”.
Kaine said Aerocare has been ripping off workers wages for seven years, forcing them to sleep at airports between split shifts. TWU has also claimed that Fair Work recently terminated an Aerocare agreement that allowed the company to pay workers below the award rate.
Aerocare has hit back at the union, claiming TWU’s campaign is based on claims that are “unable to be substantiated”.
“Aerocare’s compliance with legislation is indisputable; the company has always provided better pay and conditions than the award,” An Aerocare spokesperson told Travel Weekly.
“The union should respect the wishes of the Aerocare workforce, who have voted for voluntary split shifts, and who want the option to earn more income when it is convenient to them.”
Kaine stood by his initial claims, adding Aerocare subjects its workers to degrading conditions.
“They get no more than 60 guaranteed hours a month; they are underpaid for early morning shifts, late-night shifts, weekends and public holidays,” Kaine said.
“There is deliberate understaffing to save the company money but which results in high injury rates; managers are known to even accompany workers into the doctors when they are injured at work.”
Aerocare’s spokesperson said the company’s safety record is “best-in-class”.
“In 25 years of handling more than one million flights, Aerocare in Australia and New Zealand is believed to be the only major baggage handler to be penalty-free for both aviation and workplace safety breaches. Industry figures show that Aerocare has only one-sixth the rate of lost time injuries of the rest of the industry, making it the benchmark for safety,” the spokesperson said.
“The Fair Work Commission agreed workers are underpaid and terminated the current 2012 agreement just two weeks ago. This proves these workers have been ripped off their wages for seven years,” Kaine reiterated.
“Instead of trying to cover up appalling working conditions and engaging costly legal battles, Swissport/Aerocare must negotiate a fair agreement with its workforce and the unions that represent them. This agreement must ensure workers have dignity at work and no longer are forced to struggle to support their families.”