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Just 10% back to full hours, says TWU survey

written by Adam Thorn | March 4, 2021

Virgin Australia 737-8FE(WL) Brisbane Airport VH-YIB
‘Trinity Beach’ arriving into Brisbane Airport as ‘VA957’ in some windy and overcast conditions. 1/10th sec pan for those who are interested. (Emil Cooper)

Just one in ten workers in the aviation industry are back to full hours, a new investigation by the TWU reveals.

More than 900 people responded to its survey, the biggest so far, which also reveals one in four workers remain stood down from their jobs and more than 60 per cent of those made redundant had 10 years plus experience.

The results come just three weeks before both JobKeeper payments and supplemented flights are due to end, with the government still tight-lipped as to whether new help will be introduced.

Other headline results included:

  • Of the one in five workers who have left aviation or been made redundant, over 35 per cent had over 20 years’ experience and 25 per cent had between 10 and 20 years’ experience;
  • Just 3 per cent found a new job in aviation, 77 per cent applied for work in aviation but didn’t hear back while 20 per cent were rejected for jobs;
  • Of those who found other jobs, over one in two said the pay and conditions were worse;
  • 55 per cent have had to access super;
  • 39 per cent have had to use up leave entitlements;
  • 40 per cent have had to ask family or friends for financial help;
  • 36 per cent have had to stop rent or mortgage payments; and
  • 55 per cent have had to delay bill payments.

“The aviation industry and the workers in it continue to be hugely affected by the pandemic,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine. “Despite this we are just three weeks away from the end of JobKeeper and the federal government refuses to give any assurances about the industry’s future. We have been calling for AviationKeeper for some time now we have the evidence to show how badly it is needed.”

The TWU’s survey follows a similar report by the Australian Services Union (ASU), which found that nearly three-quarters of aviation workers would not be able to support their family if JobKeeper is scrapped in March.

Its survey of 500 members in the sector also revealed 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.


Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported how Treasurer Josh Frydenberg gave his strongest hint yet that the government will provide support for aviation when JobKeeper ends later this month.

Frydenberg told Sky News he was considering “other measures” to put in place in April to support “a range of industries, including the aviation sector”.

“There’s no doubt that the aviation industry’s been hit and hit hard and Qantas having a 75 per cent reduction in their revenue is testament to that,” he said.

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.

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