SafeWork NSW has issued Jetstar with an improvement notice over conditions for the ground crew at Sydney airport. It comes as workers commenced industrial action over understaffing.
The notice was issued on Thursday afternoon after inspections at the Botany site showed that workers were at risk of serious injury, including “being crushed, ingested or other” due to “inadequate safe work procedures”.
The Sydney Morning Herald obtained a copy of the notice, and according to the news outlet, it showed that Jetstar failed to ensure that a full crew of at least four team members and one supervisor were allocated to each aircraft to complete all tasks.
SafeWork has confirmed that a notice was issued and that it was “regarding safe work procedures relating to airline ground crews,” but wouldn’t comment further as the investigation was ongoing.
A Jetstar spokeswoman has explained that the company “would never put the safety of our people or passengers at risk”.
“We have robust safety management systems in place which are regularly reviewed and audited by a range of regulators, including CASA,” she said.
However, the Transport Workers Union, which is in negotiations with Jetstar over wage issues has said that the members are working in unsafe conditions due to understaffing, as well as irregular work schedules.
The National Secretary for the TWU, Michael Kaine has said that the improvement notice “confirms what workers have been telling us for months: that staffing levels at the airline are dangerously low.”
“Workers are expected to do the same back-breaking work – lifting thousands of kilos of baggage and operating heavy machinery – but with half the staff,” Mr Kaine said.
“The deliberate understaffing means injuries are through the roof.”
In response, the spokeswoman for Jetstar said the TWU had “a history of playing the safety card when it suits them, and this is another example of that”.
The improvement notice comes as Jetstar’s pilots begin strike action over a new wage deal, alongside the strike action taken by the ground crew. The airline has had to cancel more than 100 flights over the weekend due to the strike action.