Smashing Labour Hire in Airlines

Current Campaigns : Smashing Labour Hire in Airlines
Smashing Labour Hire in Airlines

Despite strong financial performance in the Airlines sector, workers in aviation are facing a crisis, witnessing the de-professionalisation of what were once solid, stable careers for life. Massive profits are coming at the expense of workers and customer experience. Airlines bosses are ultimately the ones responsible for packaging up essential tasks and handing them off to companies who underpay and undervalue their workers.

The subcontracting of work from Airlines to ground handling companies is the biggest factor impacting our industry, with ground handlers expected to hold a 60% share of the market by 2022.

The intense competition between these providers drives down employment conditions - they rely on cutting labour costs to win contracts. This downward pressure also flows onto those employees still employed directly by airlines.

In 2017 the ASU caught international airline service company dnata setting up a side company called Airport Handling Services Australia (AHSA), in a bid to undercut its existing employees.

This new company was established so that labour hire employees could be brought in to do the same work that dnata’s existing employees were performing, but for less pay and conditions. AHSA employees were only guaranteed the legal minimum wage.

dnata Australia then commenced using AHSA to directly compete with dnata for contracts, taking work away from existing employees bit by bit and undermining job security.

The good news is that dnata workers weren’t intimidated by management's threats and dodgy actions. Following a protracted campaign to defend the rights of the permanent workforce, dnata dropped their plan to put AHSA staff on a separate Agreement. The ASU successfully negotiated a watershed Agreement which covers all dnata and AHSA employees. Job security will be increased under the new Agreement, with requirements to move labour hire and casual staff into permanent positions.

The resulting Agreement effectively rendered the side company redundant and for the first time ever, the ASU was granted full access to the workforce to discuss their new rights and entitlements.

This is a fantastic win and proof that workers standing together can safeguard wages and conditions, even when multi-national companies try to undermine them.

As part of the Change the Rules campaign, the ASU continues to fight to make sure that workers who are employed by labour hire companies receive the same pay and conditions as other workers employed to do the same job. We’re campaigning for a national labour hire licensing system where labour hire companies are properly regulated to ensure wages and job security are not cut.