When you step onto a plane, you’d think that all the staff would be employed by the company operating the flight. But the latest research from the ACTU finds that one of our major airlines has staff split across 14 companies and contractors.
Okay, so that’s a bit weird. But what difference does that make? A big one, according to Flight Attendant Megan who has spent 12 years in the air.
“When you get on an aircraft, every crew member could be on a completely different pay scale,” she says.
“The animosity that’s felt across the board is huge. I’m an onboard manager now and sometimes my crew can earn more than me, even though I’m promoted above them.”
It’s not just the difference in pay that takes a toll. This outsourcing also means workers can be entitled to completely different conditions and because she’s a cabin crew manager, Megan has to deal with these inequalities as part of her job.
For example, “some staff are not getting meal break penalties and need to have break – the added stress of dealing with our day is huge,” she says.
Even more confusing, one airline has created it’s own, wholly-owned labour hire firms – which shows clearly how big business are using labour hire loopholes to skirt around paying workers fairly.
Put everyone on the same playing field
Despite the daily unfairness, Megan still enjoys her job.
“I just love the people I fly with. The other cabin crew but also the passengers. The different people you meet everyday.”
But she also knows that things need to change. It’s one of the reasons she’s in a union: “We’re here fighting to make sure it’s better for the future.”
Labour hire cabin crew miss out on penalty rates, have less job security and have harder time with work-life balance when they can be given a shift with barely two hours’ notice.
Airlines are far from the only industry using labour hire loopholes. That’s why union members are working to ensure those loopholes are closed off to protect workers from these dodgy practices.
“I’d love to see same job, same pay come in,” Megan says.
“Let’s get us all on the same playing field. Let’s make it even. And let’s not use ‘alternative workforce’ as an argument when trying to get us to agree to lowering our conditions.”