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‘No excuse’ not to extend JobKeeper after error, says TWU

written by Adam Thorn | May 25, 2020
A supplied image of Bankstown Airport. (Bankstown Airport)
A beautiful take off at Bankstown Airport. (Bankstown Airport)

The TWU has said there is now “no excuse” for the government not to extend JobKeeper to omitted airport workers after it emerged the scheme is $60 billion under budget.

National secretary Michael Kaine said, “Thousands of airport workers for almost two months have had no pay, their leave and savings have been exhausted and they are terrified about their families’ future.”

On Monday morning, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Today program he accepted blame for the apparent reporting error, which means the aid package will only cost $70 billion and cover 3.5 million Australians, rather than $130 billion and 6.5 million as forecast. However, he insisted that there are no plans to open it up to more workers.


The JobKeeper package was introduced to provide coronavirus-affected businesses with $1,500 per employee, per fortnight. The companies are then legally obliged to pass that payment onto workers in a bid to keep the economy active during the pandemic.

Previously, Australian Aviation has reported that dnata staff were told they were no longer eligible because their company is owned by a foreign government, while many airport workers are similarly locked out because their firms are council-owned.

“There is now simply no excuse for the government not to pay airport workers the Jobkeeper Payment,” said Kaine. “Airport workers who clean the planes, prepare in-flight meals, get baggage onto and off aircraft and help get planes into the air pay their taxes in Australia like other workers across Australia.

“They deserve to be supported during this crisis, which saw the federal government introduce restrictions which have almost shut down the aviation sector. These workers will hear about this reporting error of $60 billion and wonder why they cannot be paid Jobkeeper Payment like everyone else.”


Earlier this month, the Labor MP whose constituency covers Sydney Airport slammed the government’s JobKeeper package for ignoring workers at a press conference at Terminal 2.

Kingsford Smith’s Matt Thistlethwaite said it was unfair that dnata staff were excluded: “These people live in Australia, work in Australia, pay taxes in Australia and contribute to the Australian economy. These deserve the support of the Australian government.”

Meanwhile, dnata told Australian Aviation the decision to exclude them would put 4,500 jobs at risk.

The catering and ground handling business claims the Tax Office originally said it could apply for the aid, but then reversed its decision because the company is owned by a foreign government.

A dnata spokesperson said, “The application of the scheme was critical to the company’s Australian employees, as it meant that we could reinstate previously stood down workers, and keep the rest of the workforce employed.”

Dnata is owned by the Emirates Group, which is in turn run by the state government of Dubai.

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  • Col


    I bet the TWU would keep their mouth shut if Labour was in Power!!! What a stup statement of course they would say nothing if Labour were in Power.
    But is your gripe with the policy or their projections. As a Commision only employee I dont fall under their scheme either but there has to be limit on what can be done by our governement. I am hopeful they have done enough to be business as usual in the not to distant future, something that would not be feasable without there current actions. TWU You put Ansett out of business in the name of fighting for ther salaries and they all ended up unemployed. Good job keep it up you morons.

  • Bob


    I feel sorry for the dnata employees after
    going through the pilot’s dispute and the
    collapse of Ansett But until Emirates refund
    the passengers who directly or indirectly
    bought flights prior to Covid-19 they should
    not be bailed out Emirates cough up to both
    their loyal staff and their travelling customers
    their customers

  • How typical of the clueless left that they can’t grasp the fact that this means we actually have to borrow 60 thousand million dollars LESS (that’s what 60 billion is!), i.e. about double our annual defence budget. No wonder economic management can never be trusted to the (modern day) ALP.

    • MD


      Agree entirely Chris. One small comment. It is not 60 thousand million dollars. It is 60 thousand million dollars PLUS interest. I seriously doubt the TWU is familiar with the concept of paying back something you borrow anyway!

  • Ferdi


    Typical union-speak; like their Labor ‘leaders’ all they know how
    to do is SPEND other peoples’ ie taxpayers’, money! Bet they’d stop if the money was coming out of their personal pockets!
    I doubt very much the LNP Federal Govt will take any notice of them, & why would they?

    Col above is correct, they sent AN broke by wanting higher & higher wages for their members, under threat of possible ‘union action’.
    No wonder 1000’s of the country’s workers’ have deserted them in droves. They’re trouble.

  • Peter


    Anyone who works for a company listed on the ASX is probably employed by a foreign entity, do you know who owns QANTAS ?? 49% foreign hedge funds yet most of their employees all get job keeper so why not DNATA & others

  • Bernard Samms


    Incompetent management put Ansett out of business!!

    • Mykel


      Abeles’ contributed greatly to AN demise, in purchasing multiple aircraft types, & the costs of spares’ requirements’ for those.
      Air New Zealand Mgt treated it like a ‘cash cow’.
      There’re many reasons AN collapsed, & the unions’ didn’t help whatsoever!

  • Lucas


    I can think of 60 billion reasons why they should not!

  • john


    wind up jobkeeper /& jobseeker. We can’t afford them & what crazy rate is gst going to go to now ? 20, 30% to pay for all this excess ?

    Many people don’t want to go back to work, as it’s too good sitting on their bums

  • Craigy


    Seems TWU, labor, ACTU and the greens think the 60 billion is government revenue rather than borrowed. I am happy they Government doesn’t have to borrow as much as earlier thought.

  • Patrickk


    Why is dnata picked on as it is state owned while so much including Optus is owned by temasek a Singapore government owned investment corporation.

  • Vincent


    And Temasek is just the beginning. At the end of the day the D’nata staff are Australian workers, paying their taxes in Australia And they deserve to be treated as such! I think it’s appalling that this government is not looking after these people! Nobody complained when it was first announced that $130 billion was going to be spent but all of a sudden when they have made a huge mistake, we no longer want to help Australians in need. Shame on you coalition partners. Get real and look after these hard working people!

  • Paul


    Typical unions. Unfortunately they and their political mates do not understand simple economics.
    The irony in all this though is Virgin is 90% foreign owned yet 8500 virgin staff are receiving jobseeker. Dnata is 100% foreign owned and those employees receive zip. Funny how a 10% holding makes all the difference.

  • Michael Day


    Dnata catering staff were originally qantas, were not given the choice to be dnata, do not own shares in dnata and still pay taxes in australia and are australian citizens, does any of this make sense?

  • Chris


    Everyone is talking about full time staff of Dnata, Dnata has thousands of casuals who were working for years with Qantas Catering and now Dnata, they were transferred without their consent from one recruitment agency to another.
    All these casuals were stood down, no job keeper, no annual leave, just nothing. Did they get any help from Dnata or from the government, nothing, the unions are defending full time staff but who will defend the casuals. No one not Dnata, not the agencies, not the unions and sure not the government. And we have this slogan; we are all in this together, not casuals who their agencies are not eligible for job keeper.

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