Union Says Airline Places Country At Security Risk
Qantas Airways Ltd. staffers at Sydney International Airport are
threatening to strike next month, citing unsafe working conditions
and security concerns.
The airline's baggage and ramp workers claim they are operating
in a dangerous environment following cuts to staff numbers, said
Australia's Transport Workers Union.
Strike action against Australia’s largest carrier is
inevitable, said union leader Tony Sheldon, and may start as early
as next month.
Sheldon told Bloomberg News a total of 500 staffers may stop
work if Qantas doesn't address the complaints by the union on
behalf of the employees, according to Bloomberg.
The labor union claims Qantas’ plan to outsource labor in
sections of the airport is a dangerous move, which risks the safety
of thousands of Australians.
"These workers often wait for proper clearance for up to six
months, while no one knows anything about their background. This is
inappropriate, and presents a real threat to security," said
The union adds security is also lacking for new hires, and
endangers all workers. "Labor hire workers don’t have
background checks before being allowed into extremely sensitive
areas of the airport," Sheldon said. "They are only covered through
a temporary visitor pass while their application is being processed
-- meaning potential terrorists could be slipping through the
In some parts of Australia, he adds, there is no security
badging or background check required to work on airports.
"In Queensland a flight catering operation of labor hire workers
were found to be working without any security clearance at all, not
even a temporary visitor pass. This is a blatant breach of
security," said Sheldon.
The union asserts the nature of Labor hire arrangements --
particularly the high turnover of staff -- means employees are
often untrained, and often do not know rules, or will not report
"This susceptibility to intimidation and pressure was seen in
2006 when a group of labor hire workers were told to unload a
potential bomb from a Virgin flight and told their jobs depended on
it," Sheldon said.
"National security, the traveling public and the economic
profitability of the airline industry is clearly being put at risk
by labor hire arrangements," Sheldon added.
Bloomberg was unable to reach Qantas officials for comment on