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TWU does battle with airport firm as well as with Qantas

July 4, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Fresh from taking part in a legal action against Qantas over bonuses, Australia’s Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has declared it will fight the “poverty conditions” faced by thousands of airport workers, as ground services company Swissport/Aerocare attempts to get approval for what the TWU terms a “substandard enterprise agreement”.

The TWU was in the news last week when it joined the peak union body ACTU in a court challenge to the Qantas’ bonus scheme, which the unions regard as discriminatory. The unions are criticising Qantas for withholding the bonus until workers sign a new enterprise agreement. The unions claim other staff not on enterprise agreements received their cash immediately and without restriction. See: ACTU takes legal action against Qantas over bonuses

In the separate Swissport/Aerocare case, the TWU contends that the agreement allows Swissport/Aerocare to underpay its baggage handlers, airline cleaners, caterers, drivers and check-in staff millions of dollars in rates, shift penalties and allowances.

It does not meet the better-off-overall test, the TWU has told the Fair Work Commission.

The TWU’s move follows a successful challenge to an enterprise agreement in 2017. The TWU is also challenging Swissport/Aerocare’s current agreement, which dates back to 2012, which the union argues has impoverished its workers, forcing them to sleep at airports because of low rates and gruelling split shifts.

The TWU claims workers are “guaranteed just 60 hours per month and are kept constantly desperate for more hours. Because of the low rates and lack of hours, they are forced to work split shifts with lengthy waits between them, resulting in workers sleeping behind baggage carousels and in their cars.

“This agreement will reinforce this exploitation and allow it to continue for four more years,” TWU National Secretary, Michael Kaine, stated.

“The four main airports in Australia made over AUD 2.2 billion profit last year according to the ACCC. We are demanding fairness and we want airports to hold the likes of Swissport/Aerocare to account for how they treat their staff,” Kaine said.

Written by Peter Needham

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