Virgin and five other ground handling and catering companies have penned an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to extend the JobKeeper scheme beyond September for aviation.
The message, also signed by six unions, asks the payment to apply to all workers in the industry and run until domestic and international borders open.
It comes a week after the government announced it would delay making a decision on whether to extend the initiative, but hinted the industry would receive some form of financial aid.
The letter, which can be read in full here, states, “We need a unique response to ensure that planes can return to the skies and companies can remain operational for when we all need them.
“There is much talk of flights restarting yet we know it will take months, if not years, for anything resembling normality to return and that there are not only thousands of jobs on the line because of this, but the very viability of multiple employers as well.
“For those not allowed access to the payment, the past few months have been very difficult with families facing turmoil, debt, housing stress and loss and the constant threat of job losses.”
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said, “We are at a critical moment where businesses and jobs are just about clinging on but without a signal of ongoing support they will be lost.
“The federal government needs to urgently decide if it will risk mass redundancies in aviation and the knock-on effect of impeding a bounce-back from the pandemic.”
Late month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison hinted he would hold off announcing whether to extend the JobKeeper scheme after it expires in September. It was initially thought the decision would be announced at the end of June.
However, he clarified there will definitely be a “next phase” of support, though the government will take its time in deciding its composition.
“There’s still a lot of work to do there and that’s what we’re focused on,” PM Morrison said. “There are many moving parts in this, this is not a simple issue.”
He also gave his strongest signal yet that the aviation industry specifically would benefit.
“Whether it be Qantas or those in the entertainment sector or the tourism, hospitality sector, or regions like north Queensland, we get it, we understand that they are going to be hurting more for longer than other parts of the economy,” the PM said.
After the Qantas Group announced it was set to axe 6,000 staff, chief executive Alan Joyce revealed he had personally asked for industry support beyond September.
The JobKeeper package was introduced to provide coronavirus-effected business with $1,500 per employee, per fortnight.
Companies are then legally obliged to pass that payment onto workers in a bid to keep the economy active during the pandemic.
More generally, the scheme has proved problematic for much of the aviation industry.
Many airport workers are locked out of the financial package because their firms are council-owned; while staff at dnata were similarly told they were no longer eligible because their company is owned by a foreign government.
FULL LIST OF SIGNATORIES
- The Australian Services Union
- The Transport Workers’ Union
- The Electrical Trades Union
- Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union
- The Association for Virgin Australia Group Pilots
- Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia
- Australian Workers’ Union
- Australian Federation of Air Pilots
- Cabin Services Australia
- Gate Gourmet