The TWU has said aviation workers are “desperate for a signal” from the government that it will extend JobKeeper payments for the industry.
The financial assistance is set to end nationwide at the end of March, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has remained tight-lipped as to whether it would continue for some affected industries.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said, “It would make no sense to contemplate relief for tourism without AviationKeeper. The federal government’s own restrictions closing the international borders have shut down part of aviation while ongoing internal border closures are also contributing to the mass stand downs.
“Aviation workers support any measures that stop the virus spreading but they are crying out for assurances that their jobs will be saved.
“The skills that will be lost if further mass redundancies hit the industry will hamper the recovery when the vaccine rolls out and air travel resumes. We are urging the federal government to be proactive and tell aviation workers now that there is a future for their jobs.”
It comes after the Australian Services Union (ASU) said a survey of 500 of its members revealed three-quarters would not be able to support their family without JobKeeper.
The results also showed 43 per cent had accessed their super, 41 per cent deferred school fees and other expenses and 50 per cent are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent.
The developments follow Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka telling a Senate committee this month that ending JobKeeper for the aviation industry would be “devastating”.
Hrdlicka added it might be “impossible” for the business to “bear the financial cost” of operating in a market where borders are opening and closing without warning.
“We cannot predict when it will end,” said Hrdlicka. “We don’t know whether we have two more years to go. We don’t know whether we have two weeks.”
Hrdlicka’s plea was made shortly after an industry open letter was sent to the Prime Minister urging an ‘AviationKeeper’ payment.
It was signed by the businesses Virgin Australia, Menzies, dnata, Gate Gourmet and Swissport and the unions the TWU, ETU, AMWU, ALAEA, FAAA, AWU, VIPA and AFAP.
The JobKeeper package was introduced to provide coronavirus-effected business with an initial $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.
However, the scheme has proved problematic for much of the aviation industry.
Many airport workers, such as those at Newcastle, 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.