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Unions call for accountability as 15,000 Qantas workers stood down

March 25, 2020

From 5pm today Qantas will be issuing stand down notices to thousands of employees. The Qantas Engineers Alliance Unions – the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) are calling for Qantas to provide more information about how the stand downs will be rolled out.

As the COVID-19 crisis deepens, the Government needs to take decisive action to support workers through the introduction of a wage subsidy.

AMWU National Assistant Secretary Glenn Thompson says:

“The Alliance Unions have been meeting with Qantas since the stand downs were first announced last week, and most of our meetings have provided more questions than answers. As this unprecedented crisis unfolds, Qantas must be able to provide the workers it is standing down with accurate information about their entitlements while stood down and details about exactly how the business will be rolling out stand downs when it comes to issues like rotations.

“Qantas has so far been unable to answer whether workers who contract COVID-19 or any other illness while stood down will be able to access their usual sick leave entitlements. This is just one of the crucial questions that Qantas has failed to answer.

“At this time of great anxiety for workers in the airline industry, accurate information about entitlements is a bare minimum we should be able to expect from Qantas.”

Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, says:

“These workers have supported Qantas through its good times and it’s only right that Qantas should now be looking out for them during this crisis.

“It’s essential that these highly trained and skilled workers are not only supported until May, but that Qantas and the Federal Government have a plan in place for the months ahead as we have no idea how long COVID-19 will take to overcome.

“Our members are the ones doing the essential work to ensure these planes remain up in the air and provide a safe passage. They are doing that not only from a maintenance point of view but also cleaning these planes from top to bottom to ensure that we stop the spread of coronavirus. We need these workers to do this vitally important job more than ever.”

Electrical Trades Union National Secretary Allen Hicks says:

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to ground airlines and restrict travel, it’s imperative that any Federal monetary aid go directly to those experiencing loss of work and income. Qantas is a major company with healthy profit margins and well-remunerated upper management. The focus of financial relief efforts needs to be the working people who are most impacted by this crisis.

“It’s a distinct and real possibility that many workers won’t have adequate leave accrued or access to entitlements throughout this period. Both Qantas and the Federal Government need to take urgent action to protect the livelihoods of affected workers and their families.”

“Any failure to do so will have drastic flow-on consequences for Australian communities, for our economy, and for the future workforce in this crucial industry.”

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