Tuesday 28 April 2015
Cairns, North QLD: Cairns workers in the front line of the $3.2 billion tourism industry are struggling to make ends meet, with local aviation workers living below the poverty line while the airport continues to profit.
“Why should Cairns workers at the forefront of our number one industry, tourism, be living below the poverty line while every year more than 4.5 million tourists pass through Cairns airport bringing over $3.2 billion dollars into the local economy?,” TWU Cairns Official Russell Vieritz said.
“Like in so many tourist destinations around the world, our locals are on struggle street while they work to feed the profits of a massive tourism industry.
“The TWU stands by aviation workers 100 percent and we point out that without the local people who work in this industry it would stop.”
Aviation workers are struggling to make ends meet, even though the airport continues to make profits.
The 2011 census showed that 21% of Australian aviation workers were living below the poverty line. In Cairns it seems things are even worse if you work at the airport.
A survey of airport workers undertaken by the TWU this year found:
- 74% of workers say their wages don’t cover their bills
- 70% think wages at the airport are unfair
- 70% say they can’t afford to retire at 65
- 46% have had working hours reduced to less than 36 hours per week
- One third of airport workers have had to take on second jobs
“Cairns is a tourist centre that relies on the airport to support nearly every job in town, but the front line workers are seeing their wages and conditions deteriorate year on year,” Mr Vieritz said.
Cairns Aviation worker Stuart Squires said that the airport is the backbone of the Cairns economy, but the workers that make it operate are struggling to pay their bills.
“It’s not fair when you consider the airport itself made over $8 million in profit last year”, he said.
“When you see those figures, you realise how important airport workers are to our local economy. Wages and conditions should reflect that”, Mr Vieritz concluded.
Cairns airport workers will use upcoming Labour Day celebrations to focus attention on the poor wages and conditions being paid to workers in our aviation industry.
Workers from airport companies such as Qantas, QGS and Gate Aviation will march in numbers protesting the working conditions that are forced on them at Cairns Airport.
“We’ve had enough, we want it fixed. People don’t mind doing a fair days work for a fair days pay, but we won’t keep copping poverty wages while airport profits soar,” Cairns Aviation worker Sylvian Azemothe said.
Media contact: Tanie Harris Sansey 0411 875 910
23 / 04 / 2015: http://www.cairnsairport.com.au/corporate/performance/statistics/
 23 / 04 / 2015: http://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/invest/industries/tourism