Qantas Swissport workers considering mass exit

Qantas Swissport workers considering mass exit

A Transport Workers Union (TWU) survey of 165 workers revealed that 76 per cent of Swissport workers, who carry out the bulk of Qantas groundwork, are considering leaving the industry if working conditions and safety concerns don’t improve.

The TWU said it will write to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, renewing calls to investigate Qantas’ supply chain after workers revealed concerns about safety and working conditions.

These concerns include:

  • 81 per cent concerned there isn’t enough staff.
  • 62 per cent have been so fatigued at work they’ve worried about a safety incident occurring.
  • 80 per cent feel under pressure to rush.
  • 41 per cent have been injured at work.
  • 90 per cent are part-time or casual.

Pressure to rush was a significant concern, with one saying: “They say “don’t rush” then come at you aggressively over every single minute of delay.”

Swissport is haemorrhaging staff faster than they can replace them. It is a toxic work environment and we are not fairly looked after,” another worker said.

Another revealed that “accidents are going unreported due to a known lack of response from management as they can’t afford to lose more staff.”

The survey follows a dossier of safety incidents recently revealed by the TWU, including firearms left on arrivals carousels, stairs removed while passenger doors were open, vehicle collisions on the tarmac and cargo doors left open on planes.

A Swissport memo in the dossier acknowledged understaffing as a key safety issue, saying: “The business is acutely aware that our human resource levels are simply not at a sustainable level to meet the ongoing demand from the airlines.”

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the serious concerns from workers show an industry in crisis.

“Workers are facing enormous pressure from all sides: the only way to get enough hours to stay afloat is to pick up any extra shift going on back-to-back days, they’re fatigued and pressured to rush doing the jobs of three or four people because rosters are so understaffed,” Kaine said.

Kaine argued that the Federal Government must step in to address the ongoing aviation crisis.

“What we’ve got is a structural issue in aviation that needs Federal Government intervention.

“We need to stop this obsession with executive bonuses at the expense of workers and the travelling public, and the way to do that is a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to re-balance our industry.”

Swissport ground workers are preparing to begin bargaining for a new enterprise agreement in December.

Travel Weekly spoke to a Swissport spokesperson who questioned the validity of this survey and questioned the TWU’s track record.

“The TWU’s has a track record of defying our people’s wishes, particularly when it opposed the last Certified Agreement with management, and it has publicly criticised the good work of our team,” the Swissport spokesperson said.

“The TWU’s so-called survey has little to no credibility, as it has surveyed only 5% of the Swissport workforce.”

Qantas had no comment on the matter when requested by Travel Weekly.

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