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The Federal Government must extend JobKeeper for airline workers beyond September

July 10, 2020

The Australian Workers’ Union is calling on the Federal Government to extend its JobKeeper program for airline workers beyond September.

The AWU, along with the ACTU and members of the aviation industry, have written to Scott Morrison calling for the wage subsidy program to continue after September and for an urgent commitment that it will cover all aviation workers.

The aviation industry has been left crippled by COVID-19 with tens of thousands of workers being stood down or facing redundancy. JobKeeper has been a lifeline for AWU aviation members who are battling to make ends meet and face many more months ahead before they can return to work.

The letter notes that the aviation industry is an essential service that the country will rely upon as part of the economic recovery and should have its own AviationKeeper program. ‘We need a unique response to ensure that planes can return to the skies and companies can remain operational for when we all need them.

‘There is much talk of flights restarting yet we know it will take months, if not years, for anything resembling normality to return and that there are not only thousands of jobs on the line because of this, but the very viability of multiple employers as well. For the sake of aviation workers and the families who depend on them we must work together to mitigate this.

‘For those companies and workers who could access it the Jobkeeper Payment has been a welcome crutch, enabling workers to maintain ties with their employer and to support themselves and their families. It has allowed eligible companies to retain their trained, experienced staff so they are ready to return to their jobs when possible.’

The AWU, along with its Qantas Engineers’ Alliance partners (the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and the Electrical Trades Union), and a host of other unions and airlines including Virgin, says an ‘aviation keeper’ payment should only be phased out as domestic and international borders reopen and business returns to normal. Notably absent from the letter’s signatories was Qantas, which recently announced it was making 6000 workers redundant, including 630 Alliance members,

Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU, said Alliance members were rightly worried about their futures. “There are thousands of workers relying on JobKeeper to get them through this crisis. It’s keeping them afloat but only just. Cut off JobKeeper and you will see families across Australia struggle to cope.

“As shown in Victoria this week, we are still very much in the grip of this epidemic and it will be many months, if not years before the airline industry fully recovers. But, once it does, it’s vital we have at the ready a highly trained and motivated airline workforce ready to return to the work and help re-start Australia’s economy.

“The Federal Government did the right thing by airline workers by introducing JobKeeper. It’s now time to show their continued support by extending this lifeline beyond September. Scott Morrison needs to speak up now so people across Australia can sleep a bit easier tonight.”

You can sign the AWU’s petition calling for the AviationKeeper scheme to be rolled out here.

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