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Qantas slammed over ‘stubborn’ coronavirus response

Alan Jones
Article image for Qantas slammed over ‘stubborn’ coronavirus response

The Transport Workers’ Union is slamming Qantas’ advice to staff, despite the risk of coronavirus exposure.

750 employees at Adelaide airport have been ordered into two-week quarantine after a cluster of COVID-19 cases linked 18 baggage handlers.

Flight crew are exempt from self-isolating, as per federal health guidelines, immediately after arriving in Australia.

Transport Workers’ Union National Secretary Michael Kaine tells Alan Jones Qantas management should be held accountable.

“Ever since the start of this, they have been downplaying the risk to their staff.

“This a company whose management culture has been so stubborn that they just did not want to change their advisory to their staff or to the general public and now we’ve got a situation where it’s out of control in South Australia.”

Qantas said in a statement to the Alan Jones Breakfast Show that they “acted immediately on advice from health authorities.” (See full statement below)

The airline says it will continue to pay sick employees to self-isolate.

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview


Full Qantas statement: 
“The requirement for crew to self-isolate is determined by Government.
“The exemption was put in place by Government and then changed by Government. It is not a Qantas decision.
“Employers cannot unilaterally tell people to self-isolate. At all times, we have acted immediately on advice from health authorities. 
“We have consistently said that the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. In fact, there is no known case of transmission on an aircraft, including time where we have carried someone who later turned out to have coronavirus and contact tracing has ultimately shown those seated around them did not themselves fall ill.
“We believe the majority of crew with coronavirus have contracted it while overseas in communities where the virus was circulating largely undetected. 
“The Adelaide cluster is the result of a ground crew member coming to work when symptomatic and contagious (despite lots of workplace and community messaging not to. Please note that Qantas does not operate any international flights through Adelaide.
“We have been paying employees to self-isolate for some time, including crew who flew the original Wuhan charters. Where it got complicated is when we stood down 20,000 staff because there was no work and sick leave doesn’t apply during stand downs. So, we updated our policy to account for this- to make sure that people whose self-isolation winds up coinciding with a period of stand down still receive their normal wage. We’ll keep paying if they become unwell with coronavirus.”

Image: Getty

Alan Jones