Aviation industry leaders are likely to be locked in negotiation on Wednesday on whether to introduce stand downs after the NSW lockdown was extended for another seven days.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine told Australian Aviation last week businesses had so far kept workers active but the situation would “inevitably” change if restrictions rumbled on.
On Wednesday, NSW recorded 27 new local cases, with most of Australia’s internal borders still closed to each other, effectively shutting down domestic travel.
Of the new COVID cases, just 13 were in isolation, something Premier Gladys Berejiklian had previously said would be the key indicator of how long it would take the lockdown to end.
She said she wants this to be the final lockdown until the majority of citizens are vaccinated.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we are constantly having to move between lockdown, no lockdown, lockdown, no lockdown,” Premier Berejiklian told the press.
The state hinted at imposing tougher restriction on the LGAs were the virus appears to be most prevalent such as Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool.
“It doesn’t matter what rules you put in place, we do rely on people doing the right thing and we’ve seen again it’s a fine line because we don’t want to prevent people from coming forward and telling us the truth,” she said.
“We need people to tell us where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing.”
Australia’s major airlines have so far avoided mass stand-downs of staff despite half the country being put in lockdown last week and borders closing.
“People are currently working on ordinary hours,” said Kaine on Friday. “But for many in aviation, that itself is hard because they’re not getting the overtime and overnight allowances that they’ve become accustomed to.
“Clearly, casuals and part-timers will be used as a minimum, so they’re already suffering.
“But in terms of stand down, they haven’t been triggered yet. We had some pre-meetings with companies, which we are working with to attempt to avoid that.
“But it’s going to be an inevitability, particularly if the New South Wales situation doesn’t improve.
“And the prospect of coming out [of] lockdown next week, I think, is starting to diminish. And that’s going to mean real trouble.
“I think that we really are in territory where we’re going to need some relief. We continue to call for an AviationKeeper for situations like this so the system can become more nimble.”
Kaine said there are already calls in a couple of companies for staff to take unpaid leave.
“That means workers are going to be left to the vagaries of any potential social security system with no dedicated aviation payment,” he added.
Australian Aviation reported how nearly 373 flights arriving or departing from Sydney Airport on 30 June were cancelled or withdrawn from service as domestic aviation in Australia ground to a near halt.
The last time states and territories locked out NSW at Christmas due to the Northern Beaches cluster, it cost Qantas alone $400 million.