The Transport Workers Union has urged the government to pay 80 per cent of stood down Virgin Australia employees’ wages.
However, the union also praised the airline group for its approach compared with rival Qantas.
National secretary Michael Kaine said, “We are pleased that Virgin at least has agreed to discuss how workers can be compensated for the leave they have diligently built up, in some cases for their retirement. We urge other employers, like Qantas, to follow suit.”
He added that workers should not have to “shoulder the burden” by taking holiday time and should not be drastically worse off when COVID-19 finally abates.
Earlier, Virgin said it would temporarily stand down 80 per cent of its workers, and increase domestic capacity restrictions from 50 to 90 per cent from midnight on Friday, 27 March until 14 June. Tigerair is to suspend all services immediately.
Kaine said, “It is important that we plan for the end of this crisis as well as deal with the tumultuous impact of the pandemic at present. Workers need to be able to get back to work and ensure [they do] not have their entire reserves, whether it is leave, savings or superannuation funds, wiped out.
“Workers should not be the only ones bearing the brunt of this crisis. Government must step up and guarantee wages and companies need to do right by their workers and give commitments to repaying the hit workers are taking.”
The TWU cites a YouGov Galaxy poll it commissioned that reveals 62 per cent of people want the government to take a stake in private companies that require bailouts.