Qan­tas work­ers asked to vol­un­teer

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - ROBYN IRON­SIDE AVI­A­TION WRITER

Qan­tas is ask­ing staff to vol­un­teer their own time to boost the num­ber of front­line work­ers at Syd­ney in­ter­na­tional air­port dur­ing the busy sum­mer hol­i­day pe­riod.

An email sent to em­ploy­ees at Qan­tas’s Mas­cot head­quar­ters yes­ter­day out­lined the “Christ­mas peak vol­un­teer ini­tia­tive” with a list of roles where staff could “lend a hand”.

“We re­quire vol­un­teers to as­sist the self-ser­vice check-in and auto bag drop area, bussing gates, con­course ar­rivals hall and at the trans­fer desk,” the email says. “The roles al­lo­cated to vol­un­teers will de­pend on their pref­er­ences, skill set and se­cu­rity re­quire­ments.”

A ta­ble then de­tailed the vol­un­teer roles avail­able and level of se­cu­rity clear­ance needed, rang­ing from a Qan­tas staff pass to a cur­rent red avi­a­tion se­cu­rity iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card.

A Qan­tas spokesman said the ini­tia­tive was not about cut­ting costs but “spread­ing a bit of Christ­mas cheer dur­ing a re­ally busy pe­riod”.

“We al­ways scale up with ad­di­tional paid staff over the peak hol­i­day pe­riod,” he said.

“And we also ask head of­fice em­ploy­ees if they’d like to lend a hand, which is a mix of their own time and com­pany time.”

He said it was typ­i­cally ex­ec­u­tives who vol­un­teered be­cause it was a chance for them to spend more time on the front­line.

“Vol­un­teer tasks in­clude hand­ing out bot­tles of water and Christ­mas choco­lates to pas­sen­gers at air­ports and help­ing peo­ple find their way around the ter­mi­nal,” said the spokesman, adding that so far the re­sponse had been very good.

The Aus­tralian Ser­vices Union, which posted the email on so­cial me­dia, de­scribed the call for vol­un­teers as “cor­po­rate greed and wage theft”.

ASU NSW branch sec­re­tary Natalie Lang said the idea that peo­ple “just love work­ing and not be­ing paid is atro­cious and com­pletely in­ac­cu­rate”.

“They’re say­ing it’s all vol­un­tary but we know that peo­ple of­ten feel pres­sured to vol­un­teer when they’re try­ing to get ahead and have a great ca­reer,” Ms Lang said.

She said it was “not like Qan­tas was set­ting up a soup kitchen at the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal and ask­ing staff to help feed the hun­gry and home­less”.

“This is the time of year when char­i­ties and com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions of­ten look to peo­ple in the com­mu­nity for help to pro­vide sup­port to those in need,” Ms Lang said.

“Those or­gan­i­sa­tions are now com­pet­ing with Qan­tas for vol­un­teers at Christ­mas time.”

She urged Qan­tas to with­draw the re­quest im­me­di­ately and com­mit to pay­ing staff for ex­tra du­ties over Christ­mas.

“The other thing is those roles are jobs that peo­ple cur­rently em­ployed by Qan­tas do.’’

The re­ac­tion on so­cial me­dia was gen­er­ally one of dis­be­lief, as peo­ple ques­tioned whether the email was fake. “I’m hop­ing it’s just a badly worded way of get­ting peo­ple to take on ex­tra (paid) shifts and it’s all a mis­un­der­stand­ing. Hop­ing,” said Fiona Moore on the ASU’s Facebook page.

Qan­tas made a record profit of $1.6 bil­lion in the 2018 fi­nan­cial year.

‘We know that peo­ple of­ten feel pres­sured to vol­un­teer when they’re try­ing to get ahead’ NATALIE LANG AUS­TRALIAN SER­VICES UNION

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