Dozens of aviation workers including ground crew, cleaners and catering staff have staged protests at Melbourne Airport over pay and working conditions which they say risk safety and security.
The aviation employees and Transport Workers Union members protested at the international departures terminal at Melbourne airport on Monday morning, but their action did not hold up passengers.
“Low wages, chronic understaffing, appalling conditions and cost-cutting results in injuries among airport staff and threatens public safety,” TWU Victorian secretary John Berger said.
Employees of ground handling company Aerocare struggled with split shifts that forced many staff to sleep at airports and were paid reduced penalty rates for weekends and nights, the union said.
“The travelling public would be truly shocked if they knew the realty of work in Australian airports and Aerocare staff have among the worst conditions in the aviation industry with some living below the poverty line,” Mr Berger said.
The union claims Aerocare has had enterprise agreements with illegal split shifts and below award rates knocked back by the Fair Work Commission.
But a company spokesman said all wage and superannuation entitlements have always been paid to workers in full.
“Aerocare has always and will always operate under valid industrial agreements confirmed to be above the award by the Fair Work Commission,” the spokesman said.
The TWU wants airports and airlines to take responsibility for the conditions of their supply chains.
In August the Fair Work Commission knocked back an Aerocare enterprise agreement because of concerns about inadequate pay and overtime arrangements.
Other protests were being staged at other international airports around Australia with more likely in future.