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Issue #1560      15 August 2012

TWU pledges commitment to securing Australia’s aviation

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) see this month’s decision from Fair Work Australia (FWA) as being a win for thousands of Qantas workers across the country who stood up to the militant anti-worker agenda of Qantas-Jetstar management in October last. However, it also shows the clear need for the Australian community to unite and demand safe and secure Australian skies so that future generations will continue to have a proud aviation industry, stated Tony Sheldon, TWU national secretary.

Mr Sheldon, who was joined in Darwin by other aviation unions to launch a campaign to secure the future of the industry, commented; “The militant actions of management to aggressively target their own workforce left our members with no choice but to stand-up for their jobs. Qantas management’s disastrous decision to plan and implement a lockout of their entire workforce of 35,000 people resulted in 1.2 million hours of ‘employer industrial action’. By contrast the total number of hours of industrial action taken by TWU members was less than seven hours over a period of more than eight months.

“I know that Qantas workers will welcome a number of specific provisions handed down today, including the three percent salary increase per year, which will be backdated to July 2011. Of huge significance is FWA’s verdict that Qantas workers were right to be concerned for job security in the face of outsourcing by Qantas-Jetstar management. FWA found in favour of the TWU’s job security claim, with new job security protections that will prevent Qantas from making employees redundant in order to replace them with cheaper outsourced labour. I want to pay tribute to Qantas workers who stood up for their jobs, their communities and fairness in Australia by taking on this militant employer,” Sheldon said.

One such Qantas employee, Grant Mitchell, who works at Brisbane Airport in International Ramp Services said; “Last year Qantas did everything they could to bully us into submission – by standing together as TWU members we’ve shown the likes of [CEO] Alan Joyce that they can’t push us around. [The] decision guarantees better job protections for all TWU Qantas workers and a better future for Australian aviation workers and their families.”

Mr Sheldon continued, “While there have been a number of positive outcomes in this decision for our members, the ruling has not addressed the wider problems in the Australian aviation industry and the government seems unwilling to amend the Qantas Sales Act to safeguard the future of the industry in Australia. Now more than ever we need safe and secure Australian skies, so that when Australians fly they can be assured they are on planes with the highest standards of safety, with world class staff on fair wages and conditions and that there is a sustainable base for the aviation industry for future generations.”

The unions were present at a ceremony in Darwin to give thanks to the legacy of civil aviation workers whose sacrifice has been integral to Australia over the years. “Throughout our history … [from] Cyclone Tracy and the Bali bombing, aviation workers have stood by Australia. And we remain committed today. On behalf of the 90,000 TWU members and families, I pledge our commitment to securing Australia’s aviation sector, and I call on the wider community to join us.

“The decision from FWA comes as the Australian Aviation Unions Federation (AUF) launches our campaign in Darwin for Safe and Secure Skies. From today we will be campaigning with the wider community for an Australian aviation industry that future generations can continue to be proud of.”  

Next article – Poem – Mean O’Farrell Blues (Parodied version by S Silas)

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