The major airports are making huge revenues while the people working in them are kept on low wages and hired on a casual and part time basis, the Transport Workers’ Union has said.
New figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show Australia’s four main airports had revenues of $2.8 billion in 2013/14. This came at a time when many airport workers were being pushed out of full time jobs and into precarious working conditions on as few as 20 hours a week.
“This report shows there is something rotten with the supply chain in this industry. Airports can make this much money but a cleaner or baggage handler is kept on low wages, at times below the poverty line, and not given enough hours to feed their families. It is not right,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The report shows the airlines do not have enough power to bargain for lower landing charges at airports. Airlines in turn put a squeeze on companies they hire to do catering, baggage handling or cleaning. In the end it is the workers who suffer with low wages and poor working conditions.
The 2011 census showed 21% of aviation workers earned less than the poverty line and the TWU believes this has increased dramatically in recent years. “Many of these workers will fall into the 8.5% of the overall workforce who are underemployed – that’s almost one million people kept on part time hours but with full time bills,” said Sheldon.
Gerry Herron, a part-time baggage handler at Qantas Ground Services, Sydney, says working for three years on restricted hours has taken its toll. “We’re all permanent part-time. I only get 25 hours a week and occasionally I work overtime. It’s tough with the ever-rising cost of living to make ends meet,” he says.
Media enquiries: Judith Crosbie 0432552895
TWU submission to the Productivity Commission on workplace relations framework: http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/188127/sub0145-workplace-relations.pdf