EXCLUSIVE | Qantas employee stood down over cleaning flights from China
A Qantas employee has reportedly been stood down for being too vocal about coronavirus concerns with flights coming from China.
Workers had been instructed to board the planes, remove catering and strip them of linen. They were given masks, gloves but no eye protective gear and no specific training on risk management.
A “highly trained health and safety representative” instructed colleagues they didn’t have to service and clean the planes if they had a reasonable concern for their health and safety, according to the Transport Workers Union.
The employee, a union delegate, was told “his concerns weren’t reasonable” and was stood down on the weekend.
Qantas says the employee was warning cleaning crew on flights from Hong Kong and Shanghai, not the rescue flight from Wuhan, where coronavirus originated.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine tells Alan Jones “workers are being unfairly targeted”.
“Well, regrettably an employee has been stood down Alan.
“We rightly lauded the actions of Qantas in sending in a rescue mission and we support the brave volunteers on that flight but there’s a double standard here isn’t there.”
Qantas Medical spokesman Dr Russell Brown has issued a statement saying, “we would never ask our employees to work in unsafe conditions” (full statement below).
“The risk of aviation workers contracting coronavirus as a result of working on an aircraft originating from China is very low.”
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Full statement from Qantas Medical spokesman Dr Russell Brown
“We would never ask our employees to work in unsafe conditions.
The TWU knows full well that the risk of aviation workers contracting coronavirus as a result of working on an aircraft originating from China is very low. I briefed them on the situation last week.
Our medical team is in regular contact with health authorities and is receiving the latest advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and the World Health Organisation.
Additional protective measures are being put in place on flights from China to further reduce the risk of our employees contracting coronavirus and we are providing them with regular updates on the latest health advice.”