Pilots pressured to fly while tired: union

Australian pilots are being pressured to fly while tired and work around “unstable” rosters, according to a union survey.

The survey by the newly-merged Transport Workers Union and Virgin Independent Pilots’ Association has highlighted concerns about job security after thousands of aviation workers were stood down earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 150 respondents from multiple companies, more than half said roster uncertainty was pressuring pilots to work while tired or unfit to fly.

The vast majority expressed concerns about fatigue management and believed there was a growing trend towards insecure work.

Workers will meet in Perth on Tuesday for the official launch of the TWU’s pilots division after the merger was recently approved by the Fair Work Commission.

“Bringing pilots into the TWU means all aviation workers benefit from the might of collectivism, from the ground and baggage room right through to the flight deck,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“The (survey) results show workers continue to bear the brunt of aviation’s peaks and troughs while profit-fanatic executives draw bonuses and exorbitant salaries.

“We need a commission to rebalance aviation, support good jobs, and ensure Australians can always rely on safe and secure skies.”

Rex pilots, represented by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, last month voted to take protected industrial action after years-long wage negotiations stalled.

One respondent to the TWU survey said industry morale was at an “all-time low”, with the pandemic used as an excuse to erode wages and conditions.

“Very few pilots would view this as a sustainable career in the long term anymore,” another respondent said.

“We have no job security, are asked to work more for less and have no control of our lives due to rostering practices.”

Michael Ramsey
(Australian Associated Press)

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