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News headings from LabourStart

Abbott backs down on foreign airlines plot

« Back to News Articles

But the move to let foreign airlines operate on domestic routes has strong support in Cabinet

If you still think the Abbott government has no agenda to take the axe to the wages and working conditions of Australian workers consider their illconceived
plan to allow foreign airlines to operate on our domestic routes.

The plan reportedly had the 100% backing of Treasurer Joe Hockey, Trade Minister Andrew Robb and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

The move would have replaced thousands of Australian jobs by exploiting, under paid and poorly trained overseas airline workers. Some of these people are paid less than $300 per month.

The TWU’s national secretary Tony Sheldon described the move as a declaration of war on the Australian aviation industry.

Last year Australia’s two main carriers, Qantas and Virgin, ended a competition war which had wreaked havoc on both airlines’ workforces.

At Qantas it resulted in 5,000 job cuts which have been replaced by parttime/ casual jobs.

“The last thing we need is a new almighty battle that undercuts Australian wages and results in further job losses.” Tony Sheldon said.

Public safety is also at issue. “We need to protect the Australian public who will be well aware of the hundreds of people who died in airline crashes in the last year on foreign carriers.

Australia has an excellent record in aviation safety, does the Government really want to see that compromised?

Conditions are already bad with 21% of aviation workers earning below the poverty line. Lowering conditions even further is simply not sustainable.

Australian workers have fulltime Australian bills to pay. They currently cannot live on the part time wages they are forced to accept in aviation.

They certainly couldn’t live on the wages Abbott and Co want to import into our country.

Thai flight attendants employed by Jetstar were being paid as little as $257 per month.

They were also forced to work 20 hour shifts in breach of Australian law.

In May last year the Department of Immigration and Border Protection wrote to the TWU confirming that the conditions for Special Purpose Visas would be amended so that such exploitation could no longer occur.

Tony Sheldon called on Abbott and his extreme right wing ministers to stick by their promise to abide by Australian labor laws and ensure Australian aviation jobs are protected.

Qantas and Virgin were also fighting a rear-guard action behind the scenes in Canberra against the proposal to allow foreign airlines to fly between airports in Northern Australia above the Tropic of Capricorn, which includes Cairns, Townsville, Darwin, Broome and Port Hedland.

They feared an open-door policy would eventually apply to routes elsewhere in Australia, and allow their rivals to cherry pick the most profitable
domestic air links.

Eventually Abbott succumbed to the mounting pressure, and with an early election looming as a serious possibility, he backed down and dumped the plan.

Hockey, Robb and Cormann were left looking red-faced and let down again by their fearless leader.