WEDNESDAY, 10 JULY 2020
SUBJECTS: Dnata workers; JobKeeper shortfalls; Aviation sector.
MICHAEL KAINE, TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION: We’re in Canberra today with workers from the Dnata group, Cabin Services Australia and supporters to say to the Federal Government, the time has come to put fairness back into this JobKeeper scheme. As you’re recalibrating this week, as you’re thinking about how the economy is going to come out of this crisis, you need to think about ensuring that the aviation economy does not collapse, and we’re here with one voice to say that it is critical that JobKeeper now is extended to all of those workers who have been denied this critical, critical support mechanism, simply because their company is structured in a particular way. I’m going to invite the Shadow Transport Minister Catherine King to address.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Thanks very much. I’ve been so privileged over the course of the last few weeks to meet hundreds of workers from Dnata, from Cabin Services Australia, from the TWU and the Australian Services Union. I’ve been privileged but I’ve been really saddened by the circumstances in which I’ve been meeting them, because I’m meeting them when they are in crisis. I’m meeting them when their Government has let them down. Five and a half thousand workers who are keeping our aviation sector alive across this country, the people who handle our baggage, who feed us, make sure our meals are prepared, who make sure that the customer service functions are happening at our airports. People who keep our planes in the sky. They’ve been let down by the Government because the Government took a decision to deliberately exclude five and a half thousand workers from Dnata from JobKeeper. Many of them who are delegates who have been hearing horrendous stories of people who are having to think about selling their houses, who are having to think about how they find money for their mortgages, how they find money for school fees, and for other bills over the course of the last few weeks, desperately hoping that the Government would change its mind. Well, the Government has an opportunity to change its mind. There is a disallowance motion before the Senate this week or next week, that the Government can actually say we got this wrong, we want to support these five and a half thousand workers. We know that the aviation industry is in crisis. It was hit hard and early by the necessary shut down because of Coronavirus. If it is to come out of this, including if we’re going to continue to keep Virgin in the skies, to keep Qantas in the skies, to keep Rex in the skies, we’re going to need every single one of these workers when we come out of this crisis. If the Government doesn’t support them now, then all of that is at risk. We call again on Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison to have a heart when it comes to these workers to make sure that they get the support that they need, and our aviation industry can continue to be strong as we come out of it. Thanks everybody so much for coming today.
JOURNALIST: Are you disappointed, it doesn’t look like there’s crossbench support yet for this disallowance motion?
KAINE: This is a fight that is every day, every hour for those workers behind us. They have taken extraordinary steps over the last three or four weeks to make sure that the Australian people understands, that the Prime Minister understands, One Nation in the Senate understands, that they will never be forgiven. They will never be forgiven, unless they step up and support these Australians now, because these Australians and their families will suffer and the aviation sector will crumble and if it crumbles, so to the Australian economy. Now is the time for them to act, and part of the forefront of the fight is the Australian Council of Trade Unions and their President Michele O’Neil is here to address you.
MICHELE O’NEIL, AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS: The workers here behind us do critical work and it’s work that’s often not seen because we’ll get on and off a plane, we’ll sit there and we’ll eat our food and not think about who’s been preparing it. Or as we leave, we’ll see workers come on and start to clean the areas we’ve been sitting in and again, move quickly off the plane without paying enough attention to the hard and skilled work that these workers perform. But this Government, the Morrison Government, has decided that just by the very fickle nature of who employs these workers, just because of the ownership structure of their bosses, where they happened to be working for a company that’s now owned by a foreign government, that somehow these workers are being punished and aren’t deserving of support. Of course, they are. Like every other worker that has continued to work or in fact lost jobs and hours throughout the pandemic, we need to see the Federal Government provide them with JobKeeper. There’s no justification to say that these workers should be excluded. And of course, it is bad for them, but it’s also bad for our economy. To have thousands of workers struck off or not given JobKeeper when we need money circulating in the economy is unacceptable. We’re calling on Josh Frydenberg to change this. And of course, we’re calling those crossbenchers to support the disallowance motion, because this regulation makes no sense. It’s the Government again making a decision that’s a short sighted decision, and so many of those we’ve seen in the last few weeks, the making sure that these workers didn’t get JobKeeper, adding to that the casual workers who worked for one company for less than 12 months, adding to that the visa workers that were excluded from JobKeeper and JobSeeker, and of course adding to that the people in the other sectors that have been excluded, like arts and entertainment, and higher education. The Government needs to review JobKeeper to make sure it covers every worker in need. That’s the review that should be happening at the moment. And then just this week after abandoning these workers, we see them also abandoned workers in the childcare sector. And you know what the Cabin Service workers and the DNata workers and the childcare workers have in common, the majority of them are women. So the majority of these workers are low income workers who are doing hard, important jobs that this Government is turning a blind eye to. They don’t care about the gender impact of what they’re doing. They seem to only have very limited support to some industries without thinking about the real impact. We need job creation, job support and JobKeeper for the workers here from Cabin Services and Dnata. The airline industry is critical. We know that what’s happened to their jobs, and to the jobs of workers at Virgin Australia, at Qantas and all the other industries and sectors involved in the airline industry has not been the fault of these workers. It’s because the Government made a decision, which was the right decision, to protect Australia by closing our borders. But the very people who’ve suffered from that they’re abandoning and in these cases punishing. They need to change it. Josh Frydenberg can change it today. The crossbench can support the disallowance motion. I’m so proud to be here with these workers who do such a skilled, hard, important job, often unseen but never forgotten. And I want to thank them for their courage, their staunch determination in coming here to Canberra and making sure that their voice is heard by the Government and the crossbench.
MARIAN, CABIN SERVICES: Hello, I’m Marian Harris. I have worked at Cabin Services for six years now, and I’m still working in only limited work, which is only probably 16 hours a week. But the people behind me here have been stood down since February. All I’m asking, Pauline Hanson look me in the eye and say, why have you forgotten about us, as well as thousands of other aviation workers? Crossbenchers, please think about it. Mr. Morrison, do you go home every night? How do you sleep? I don’t sleep. Look at me. I’m stressed because I have stories of my co-workers. All I’m asking is fairness. Please. You gave us our JobKeeper, yes only one payment, we all thought thank God, thank you. But then you had the audacity to take it off us. Why? Please explain why? There are thousands and thousands of Dnata worker, the whole of aviation as a whole. I look at my airport, I go to work every night and I’m so humble about what I see. I’m waiting for the tumbleweeds to come down because there’s just not enough work for everyone. I’ve heard so many stories. Okay, you’ve given it to the welfare, thank you. But please, we’re forgotten workers. Look at the people behind me. Look at the thousands across Australia. There are so many airport workers, essential workers. I’m on the front line. I worked last night, 12am I was supposed to finish I finished later because the aircraft was still coming in. I’m supposed to work tonight. But thank God, I love the company I work for, I love my job, I love the aviation sector. My CEO said to me, Marion, you don’t have to come in to work today, you’re doing a good thing for your workers. My boss is not getting the money. They’re not getting the money, it’s coming to us. Pauline, crossbenchers, Josh, please tell me why you took the money off us. Look at these people here. Please, everybody get on board. Thank you.
KAINE: So this is a call from these workers in aviation, but this is a warning to this Federal Government. What’s needed now is JobKeeper in aviation until the borders reopen. What we need in this country right now is aviation keeper. We need aviation keeper, because unless we get it, the aviation sector will crumble. There is a cliff coming in September. There are tens of thousands of jobs in aviation that will not be there in September if this Government does not act. And the Australian community, if they do not act will never, ever forgive them. JobKeeper was supposed to be about ensuring that sectors are ready to reopen when the virus passes. We know in aviation, that is going to take some time for the virus to pass. We support the health decisions of the Government, they need to support now the Australian community, these workers, the rest of aviation, and the rest of the Australian community which relies on aviation being ready to go again when this virus passes. It’s time to act. Thanks to all of these workers today for coming down and putting their hearts in front of this House. This House, this Senate, which today deals with a critical disallowance motion, a disallowance motion which would allow these workers and their family’s behind me to sleep tonight with comfort of knowing that their financial security is taken care of. Pauline Hanson, Scott Morrison, The time has come to act.
CATHERINE KING – TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP INTERVIEW – PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA – WEDNESDAY, 10 JUNE 2020