Hundreds of new airport jobs promised by deal with Virgin Australia, but union worries

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Aerocare will serve Virgin Australia aircraft in New Zealand. Photo / Grant Bradley

Queensland-based ground handling company Aerocare has said it will create hundreds of jobs through a contract with Virgin Australia in New Zealand, but a union warns workers’ rights are at risk.

Aerocare has won the Virgin contract with Air New Zealand for ground handling work and claims it will support approximately 5,000 Virgin Australia flights per year from Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin to six destinations international.

Managing Director Glenn Rutherford said the company would create up to 220 new jobs in New Zealand, invest more than $ 1 million in training and skills development and spend $ 5 million on material handling equipment. ‘specialized aircraft.

But the union E tu wonders about the number of jobs created.

“First of all, we would challenge Aerocare’s claim that it would create up to 220 jobs by being awarded the Virgin Australia contract. So far, the work has been done by ground staff at Air New Zealand, so there are no new jobs as such, “said Savage, the union’s main organizer for aviation.

He said the union estimated the contract with Virgin Australia involved around 90-100 full-time equivalents, but the number cited by Aerocare reflected the company’s working practices, which included the use of casual part-time staff with minimum rights.

“This is in stark contrast to the reliable wages and terms offered by companies like Air New Zealand.

Aerocare has been operating in New Zealand since 2000, serving a range of airlines.

“Companies like Aerocare do not provide their employees with job security, career development or a living wage and that is not good for New Zealand.

Aerocare has relied on unstable rosters, split shifts and wages of just $ 16-18 an hour, ”Savage said.

Over the past three years, the proportion of its workforce that are permanent employees has grown from 40 percent to around 90 percent

Aerocare spokesperson

But Aerocare hit back at E tu’s response and said it had a “proud history” of job creation and had tripled its workforce from around 1,000 to 3,000 in the past three years.

“She has been at the forefront of improving job security, encouraging workers to move from the precariousness of casual work to the security of permanent roles. Over the past three years, the proportion of its workforce that are permanent employees has grown from 40 percent to around 90 percent.

Jobs in Virgin Australia’s New Zealand operations would be a mix of full-time and part-time work, depending on the work required by airline planning.

“While it is Air New Zealand’s decision as to what it does with its staff, we understand that it will retain anyone who is currently doing work on behalf of Virgin Australia,” said a spokesperson.

Aerocare operates at airports in Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Palmerston North, supporting carriers such as Jetstar, Fiji Airways, Qatar Airways and Hawaiian Airlines.

Ground handlers provide services such as loading baggage, cleaning aircraft, maintaining aircraft water and toilet systems, and checking in customers at boarding gates.

Aerocare said he was the only Australian-owned ground handling agent to hold the world’s best security accreditation and figures showed he had a tenth the accident rate of other baggage operators in the world. ground in Australia.

The Aerocare spokesperson said it was paying more than the industry price approved by unions in Australia, providing an average of $ 9,000 more to each worker per year than those on the price.

Aerocare currently operates Virgin Australia flights from 17 locations in Australia, and with the new services this will grow to 22 locations.

Savage, who is only known by one name, said the traveling public needed to understand what is behind the low airfares offered by the airlines that used Aerocare.

These low airfares come at a cost to Kiwi aviation workers in terms of low wages and poor working conditions

Savage, you union

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“These low airfares come at a cost to Kiwi aviation workers in terms of low wages and poor working conditions.”

You wanted to discuss the problems with the company.

“E tū Aviation is interested in building a high-wage, high-productivity economy and we want to discuss with Aerocare and Virgin Australia how best to achieve this. new government will help us stop the race to the bottom in aviation contracts, ”he said.

Air New Zealand still has a codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia, but has sold its stake in the airline which faces stiff competition in Australia’s domestic market.

Roger Lindeman, managing director of ground experience at Virgin Australia, said Aerocare has been a partner of Virgin Australia since its very first flight across the Tasman.

“Aerocare was chosen after a rigorous selection process which found that the company continues to meet Virgin Australia’s very high standards for safety and compliance while providing the exceptional service for which Virgin Australia is renowned,” did he declare.


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