Swissport has stood down three workers who were caught on video aggressively hurling luggage from a Qantas flight onto an airport conveyor.
The ground handling firm appeared to confirm the authenticity of the footage that went viral on social media over the weekend, branding the incident “disrespectful” and “unacceptable”.
It comes after the Flying Kangaroo in 2021 moved to outsource ground handling operations at the 10 Australian airports where it was still running them in-house, including Melbourne, where the incident is reported to have taken place. The Federal Court twice ruled the move broke the Fair Work Act, but Qantas is set to appeal the decision in the High Court.
The video appears to show the men smiling, and at one point, luggage is lifted up before being slammed down on the conveyor belt.
In a note to staff, Swissport CEO Brad Moore said, “Disrespectful behaviour to our customer luggage and personal effects will not be tolerated and will result in serious disciplinary action.
“The individuals in the video have been stood down pending urgent investigation. Since the video was released, I have received many messages from team members across the network, sharing these concerns and equally voicing their commitment to our Safety and Service standards.
“We cannot allow the actions of a very small minority to undermine the first-class standards of the many.
“The behaviours in the video let all of us down – most importantly our frontline staff who have worked so hard through post-Covid ramp up to assure quality standards in at times challenging circumstances.”
Qantas’s executive manager of Australian sales, Stephen Thompson, said he was “absolutely appalled” by the footage.
“The good thing is that Swissport has acted very decisively and stood those individuals down,” he said. “And for us, those individuals will never touch a Qantas plane again.”
The decision to outsource staff has proved hugely controversial for Qantas, with the TWU initially pushing for redundant staff to be offered their jobs back.
Just last week, the union said it could use new multi-employer bargaining laws to benefit now-outsourced workers who provide services to the airline.
The TWU has long argued employees are worse off because they are now without the long-time enterprise agreements negotiated with the national carrier.
Qantas has consistently denied it did anything unlawful, and will now be able to make its case at the High Court next year.