Anyone catching a plane to or from five of Australia’s major airports today are being warned they may experience some disruptions, with hundreds of airport workers set to protest over what they claim are unsafe and unfair working conditions.
According to The Transport Workers’ Union, Friday’s planned protests are being staged over the airport’s refusal to act on demands to address unsafe conditions, including unacceptable levels of sexual harassment.
“Airports are refusing to deal with low wages, lack of full-time secure jobs and safety issues that workers face,” the union said.
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“Many airport workers are paid below award rates and are kept for years on part-time work, some guaranteed as few as 60 hours a month.”
It’s understood baggage handlers, drivers, airline caterers, cleaners, cabin crew, security staff, refuellers, customer service and check-in staff will all be involved.
“The Union Safety and security are compromised at airports because of deliberate under-staffing and poor working conditions which is causing high turnover rates,” the union said in a statement.
“A lack of experienced staff with full security clearance means security is at risk daily.”
“Cabin crew and female pilots are also at risk because of high rates of sexual harassment. A review by Qantas this week showed one in four cabin crew and female pilots experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months; shockingly just 3% reported it.”
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Airports workers have been clear about their demands.
“They want decent jobs that allow them to support their families, they want safe jobs so they are not at risk of injury or harassment and they want to get paid the same rate for carrying out the same job, regardless of which company they work for,” he said.
“Workers want airports to take responsibility for this and to stop passing the buck down the line. Airports make profits because workers in their supply chain are made to struggle through downgraded jobs. They have the power to ensure that companies are winning contracts at the airports on the basis of efficiency, good labour standards and safety, not just because of low cost.”
To plan ahead, here are the times and locations of the protests taking place at Australian airports today: