Gillard orders AIRC to ‘start again’ on airline staff award

News

Gillard orders AIRC to ‘start again’ on airline staff award

Industrial Relations Minister Julia Gillard has ordered the AIRC to reassess the modern award covering airline staff over concerns that workers could lose up to $300 a week, have shifts changed at short notice, and pregnant employees would lose their right to safer work.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

IR Minister Julia Gillard has ordered the AIRC to reassess the modern award covering airline staff over concerns that workers could lose up to $300 a week, have shifts changed at short notice, and pregnant employees would lose their right to safer work.
 
Gillard’s intervention came after intense lobbying by airline workers and their unions.
 
In a letter to the AIRC asking for an overhaul of the draft award, Gillard told the AIRC to consider ‘whether separate classification structures and rates of pay should be provided for ground staff employed in regional, domestic and overseas airline operations, having regard to the existing classification structures and rates of pay that apply to this work and the intention of the award modernisation process not to disadvantage employees’.
 
Multi-day trips
 
‘For example, as presently drafted, the award would allow an employer to cancel a rostered single-day trip and substitute it at late notice with a multi-day trip involving overnight stays, making it very difficult for an employee to make arrangements to care for dependants,’ Gillard wrote.
 
Gillard said flight attendants had raised concerns that the award does not provide for conditions in respect to the provision of alternative duties during pregnancy. She pointed out that a modern award may supplement the NES where the AIRC considers it necessary to do so.
 
‘I understand that the provision of unpaid leave and alternative duties during pregnancy are entitlements that have been historically been dealt with in some awards and NAPSAs for airline crew, as it is generally accepted that flying during pregnancy is not desirable given the health and welfare hazards entailed and the difficulties in performing some of the physical requirements of this work (such as being able to carry out safety procedures),’ she told the AIRC.
 
Gillard noted that the Commission had already made the award and would have to re-examine it because of Gillard’s request.
 
‘Not know when you’d get home’
 
Jo-Ann Davidson, secretary of the Flight Attendants Association, said domestic cabin crew had faced the possibility of leaving work in the morning and not knowing whether they would be home that night or in six days.
 
She said a flight attendant rostered for a four-hour shift to fly Sydney, Brisbane, Sydney could be stuck away if the return flight was changed.
 
‘There was no way cabin crew would be able to reconcile family and work responsibilities,’ Davidson said.
 
The ASU said that under the proposed modern award ground staff faced having base wages reduced to those of regional airlines under the new award, leading to pay cuts of up to $300 a week.
 
‘Only asking for what we’ve got’
 
David Epstein, Qantas group executive for government affairs, said the airline was ‘disappointed this directive has been issued based on apprehensions about the possible action of others’.
 
He said unions ‘have been making representations to government … on issues they did not choose to put before the commission fully’.
 
ASU national secretary Linda White said the union was not asking for anything it did not already have.
 
Post details