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Aerocare rejects claims of sleeping “camps” at airports and highlights excellent safety credentials

Aerocare, alongside Australian airport authorities, today confirmed that claims of employee sleeping “camps” at its airport facilities were totally without foundation.

The Company provided the results of an extensive investigation into recent disturbing media footage of improvised sleeping arrangements, allegedly within one of its airport areas, having worked in parallel with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth airports and the Australian Border Force to conduct the investigation.

All parties confirm that after careful physical inspection and review of surveillance footage and digital records they have found nothing to substantiate the existence of “camps” where people are sleeping on site or any similar practices at any of these locations.

Aerocare and Sydney Airport have also reviewed all their records over the last three years and were only able to uncover a single instance, in April 2016, of personal belongings being left against policy in an unauthorised area of the airport.

Records show that an Aerocare employee, who remains with the business, had been identified as storing personal belongings inappropriately and was officially cautioned for the infraction. Items belonging to other parties were also found at that time. The area was cleared and there is no other evidence of such conduct over that three year period.

Aerocare’s Chief Executive, Glenn Rutherford, said: “These claims of our employees sleeping rough at Sydney Airport never made sense. Airport security and Border Force regularly patrol all of our areas and we would act immediately if any evidence of unsanctioned behaviour was discovered.”

“We provide heated, air-conditioned and furnished facilities at each of our ports for employee rest breaks and our our first priority has been, and will always be, an absolute commitment to ensuring that all employees are fully trained, well informed and given the best possible safety conditions in what is a complex and potentially hazardous working environment. “

SAFETY RECORD 

Aerocare takes the safety of its workers seriously and has a strong safety record in all of its operations.

Aerocare’s Lost Time Frequency Injury Rate is less than one third the industry average (2.7 events per million hours versus benchmark of 9.1 events) – in other words, on average, you are three times more likely to be injured working for one of Aerocare’s competitors.

Mr Rutherford said: “While ground handling is a complex industrial service and incidents can and do happen, Aerocare has operated for 25 years and handled over 1,000,000 flights without a single safety or workcover-related penalty. Last year alone, we passed over 180 audits performed by the regulators, customers, and airports. There is a similar level of scrutiny every year.”

A detailed review of incident reports over a two year period demonstrated that fatigue or fatigue-related terms are not cited as a factor in almost any (<0.2%) report. Reports are completed by employees themselves in a culture of regular, open and honest reporting that is commended by customers.

The leading specialist aviation insurance broker, Aerosure, has confirmed that Aerocare’s outstanding safety track record has meant that Aerocare remains one of the most “sought out” accounts by insurers in its sector on a global basis with its premiums reflective of that superior status

Aerocare’s workers’ compensation insurance premium is 29% less than the industry average, reflective of a strong track record and safety management system.

SAFETY ISSUES 

A number of incidents were referred to in a recent ABC 7.30 Report relating to a disabled lift being damaged, and an open cargo door. Aerocare and the relevant authorities have confirmed the two incidents were not safety events.

The 7.30 Report has since sought more information of two additional incidents, one involving a premature closing of a cargo door and another an adverse weather event. Both of the incidents were investigated by the regulator – the ATSB.

In the first case, a cargo door prematurely closed and was then immediately re-opened by the employee inside using internal controls. The plane was stationary, the aircraft door was still open and, as with any opening or closing of a passenger door, the ATSB confirmed there was never any need for an associated safety review.

With regard to the adverse weather (lightning) event that saw two employees injured, after detailed review, the ATSB’s report did not find any deficiency in Aerocare procedures and instead highlighted Aerocare’s proactive actions.

Mr Rutherford said: “These few well documented and handled incidents should be considered in the context of over 170,000 flights being handled this year by over 3,000 employees across the Aerocare system. We are committed to continuing to provide the travelling public with efficient baggage handling and turnaround of planes in a safe workplace environment

While we treat any of the concerns of our employees or former employees seriously we are concerned by significant factual inaccuracies in the 7.30 Report story. In particular claims made by a person who said he was an employee but is in fact employed by a competitor, and another who provided a statement based upon baseless rumours, misunderstandings and inaccuracies.”

Aerocare has also provided the 7.30 Report with information around two other incidents which appear to have been sensationalised. The first involves an employee who suffered a major but rare workplace accident at Sydney Airport when his toe was crushed. The incident was investigated by Safework NSW, with the Safework inspector fully satisfied with the actions taken by Aerocare. The second involved a parked bus catching fire in freak circumstances. The bus had passed all safety checks prior to the incident and subsequent reviews by various authorities confirmed there were no deficiencies in Aerocare’s maintenance programs.

On all the incidents that have been raised, Aerocare has advised the ABC to check in with the regulators, including relevant workcover authorities, given they regularly scrutinise, regulate and audit the Company.

Finally, the 7.30 Report has presented Aerocare with inaccurate and misleading data that purports to reflect internal information regarding Aerocare’s workplace injury incidence. Having reviewed the data submitted by the 7.30 Report in detail, Aerocare can confirm that there is no correlation between the asserted statistics and the injury performance of the Company, which is regularly audited by workcover authorities and insurers.

In light of the 7.30 Report’s continued presentation of inaccurate and misleading material, and the fact that the program has not acknowledged the errors in its program last month, Aerocare has declined the program’s request to provide a spokesman or Aerocare-provided footage to appear on air.

TWU 

The TWU has publicly stated two key ambitions in its negotiations with Aerocare: to make split shifts optional, when they already are, and to increase minimum shift lengths to four hours, which Aerocare had already proactively proposed to staff two months ago.

Given these claims are satisfied and that investigations have shown no basis to their claims regarding poor employment conditions, Aerocare believes the TWU is conducting a concerted campaign to damage the Company’s good standing and business prospects, which is a clear demonstration that the union does not represent the views or interests of Aerocare employees.

EBA NEGOTIATONS 

Aerocare is looking forward to finalising its EBA which will continue to provide above award conditions and with split shifts continuing to be provided at the employee’s option.

The latest draft agreement proposes increasing wage rates this year across the board by at least 5%, on top of additional tenure-based increases. These commitments come at a time where the business’ large global competitors are actively announcing their intention to cut costs and reduce wages.

-ENDS- Tuesday 4th April 2017

Media Contacts: Peter Brookes, 0407 911 389 or Helen McCombie 0411 756 248 – Citadel-MAGNUS

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