ABC program 7:30 has revealed that workers at Sydney Airport’s international terminal have been sleeping at the airport, next to baggage carousel.
During their segment on the issue, it was revealed that this is happening because workers do not feel they have enough time to get home, rest, and then go back to work in a four or five shift break when they are scheduled as “off”.
One worker, driver George Orsaris, spoke to 7:30 despite fears he would be fired for doing so to “expose working conditions” at his place of work, Aerocare.
“We get pushed to our limits. Our pay doesn't match it. We don't get rest breaks and we get given a four-hour shift in the morning and then we have a four-or- five-hour break and get a four-hour shift in the afternoon”, he said during his interview.
“It is barely enough time to sleep by the time you get home, get up and have to go to work again. So we end up sleeping under the terminal where all the baggage goes between”.
According to their 2012 Fair work agreement, Aerocare’s staff, most of whom are permanent, part-time, are paid a guaranteed minimum of $16,000 per year, with the Transport Worker’s Union national secretary Tony Sheldon saying on the issue,
“Quite clearly, these agreements are deficient, they are unethical. When you are getting paid below the poverty line, when you can't raise a family on these incomes and the company clearly knows that having them part-time is starving the workforce into submission”.
Other Aerocare employees also spoke to 7:30 and told the program that they were ‘concerned fatigue had contributed to two safety incidents’, one of which reportedly steaming from November 2014 when a cargo door was left open on a Tiger Air plane in Brisbane, but fortunately discovered before the plane took-off, something Mr.
Orsaris said “could have put lives at risk”.
“If it was missed and the plane was to take off down the runway, I'd hate to think what would happen”, he added, with Aerocare also commenting that, “the safety of crew, passengers and ground staff was never at risk”.
Despite this report airing on ABC’s 7:30, Aerocare are refuting the claims being made against them, with chief executive, Glenn Rutherford, saying he was concerned about "any allegations of system deficiency" and would further investigate any claims.
“We want to ensure it is on record that in 22 years, and despite handling over a million flights, Aerocare has never been penalised for a safety issue, he added.
“We've seen the Americanisation of the Australian workforce in the aviation industry and yet we've seen executive bonuses increase, we've seen airport profits in the billions and this future is really something that beholds for everybody across the Australian workforce”.
In a statement made by the company, a spokesman said that, “Aerocare strongly refutes any allegations or assertions … inferring poor treatment or under-payment of its employees”.
“Aerocare has invested millions of dollars to improve the quality of its rostering so as to maximise the duration of shifts, with the goal of securing more contracts which would enable Aerocare to offer employees longer shifts and further viable full-time positions,” they continued.