Aid for ‘scandal-ridden’ Swissport needs conditions, says TWU

written by Adam Thorn | April 23, 2020
Swissport has asked the federal government for a bailout as it struggles through the coronavirus crisis (Swissport)

The Transport Workers Union has urged the government not to bailout “scandal-ridden” Swissport unless any deal includes equity and “strict conditions on labour standards”.

The ground operations company has asked for a $125 million rescue package to mitigate the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus crisis. It’s owner, HNA Group, is also one of the main shareholders in Virgin Australia Group, which entered administration on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, national secretary Michael Kaine urged Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to think twice about a straightforward bailout to save the company, despite the business admitting it may have to cut 80 per cent of its workforce to survive.

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“This is a company that has ripped workers in Australia off for years to the tune of millions of dollars and forced them into the most degrading working conditions. The government must take a stake in Swissport and supervise strict lifting of labour standards,” said Kaine.

“It must clear out its senior management team, which has for years devised and overseen the exploitation of workers in Australia.”

Instead, the union has urged the government to create a “national plan” on aviation to create a “new type of aviation industry”.

The TWU and Swissport, formerly called Aerocare, have a long-standing bad relationship, with accusations, denials and legal action taken.

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In 2019, for instance, the Federal Court of Australia ruled Swissport workers couldn’t be forced to work split shifts following a series of disputes in the Fair Work Commission.

Unions have also previously accused Aerocare of forcing employees to sleep in “camps” at airports, something the company vigorously denied.

However, the TWU previously urged the state governments to bail out Virgin Australia, after Queensland was the first to offer assistance.

“We ask that you consider these workers and to examine your state’s capacity to give them and their families the certainty they need about their future,” it said.

“We believe it is also in the interest of the travelling public that Virgin remains a viable airline to ensure an efficient, reliable service right across Australia. A monopoly by one airline after this crisis ends will hamper the nation’s ability to restart and get back to where it was.”

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4 Comments

  • Paul Robson

    says:

    Definitely no money for this company!
    They have treated their staff very poorly.
    Anyone who raised legitimate concerns…had their hours cut!
    By all means direct financial govt assistance to the staff….not a cent to swissport

  • Col Coyne

    says:

    As Darryl Costigan would say, ‘Tell ’em their dreamin'” HNA should put their hand in their pocket. Ground handling agents would not be that hard to replace, not the same as if an airline went defunct and required aircraft, crews and infrastructure to restart operations.

  • Phil C

    says:

    No way should any help go to this entity. Perhaps ley each airport owner take on the staff with individual EBA’sor bring in an Australian owned and operated labour hire company. Pollies and others now have the perfect chance to take back the farm so to speak

  • Bernard

    says:

    As I’ve mentioned in the past anything HNA touches ends up rubbish. If the govt can see past its ideological barrier on this one and take ownership because its infrastructure to enable multiple airlines to operate and it can be an Australia wide matter.

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