The story about Aerocare in the 7.30 Report of 20 April amounted to a second unwarranted attack upon Aerocare’s operations and record.
The story reflected misleading allegations made by the Transport Workers Union during a multi-week campaign, and are timed to attempt to influence the negotiation and development of the latest Aerocare Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
In the face of this campaign, Aerocare employees voted this week in a landslide to adopt the latest EBA – an endorsement of Aerocare employee and workplace conditions from those who are in the best place to judge.
The 7.30 Report program was underpinned by the claims of two former Aerocare employees. Their accusations were baseless, misconceived and/or demonstrably false.
Aerocare provided extensive factual material and context to the 7.30 Report in response to these allegations. This was all but passed over in the uncritical airing of claims by a handful of individuals who are no longer part of the business.
CARGO DOOR CLOSURE
For example, 7.30 showed a former Aerocare worker claiming that his baggage handling supervisor was accidentally “locked” in the cargo hold of a plane “about to take off” from Brisbane Airport. As the ABC was made aware weeks ago with copies of the extensive incident reports and the supervisors’ own detailed statement, the supervisor was in fact not locked in the hold or in any way desperate. He opened a prematurely-closed door from the inside and exited the plane.
The incident occurred when the plane was being loaded. The plane was not about to take off and could not have taken off without clearance from the supervisor himself. The relevant regulator, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, has specifically confirmed that the event was not reportable but, despite being aware of this key fact, the ABC has chosen to misleadingly portray this as a safety issue and a failure in incident reporting.
ALLEGED DEHYDRATION INCIDENT
The ABC also reported on an incident involving a former employee, Chris Wyatt, who claimed he had to leave a shift on 2 December 2014 because of severe dehydration.
At no time did Mr Wyatt or anyone else report this incident or any associated issues to Aerocare. There is no record of Mr Wyatt reporting this alleged incident as a workplace injury to anyone or at any time.
When this allegation was first put to Aerocare last week, investigations identified that Mr Wyatt was heavily involved in a State Emergency Service operation in the days leading up to the 2 December and, on the day, it was confirmed that he worked for less than two hours before leaving his shift with an infection.
He returned to work in an unrestricted capacity and reporting no issues only 36 hours after leaving his prior shift. To attribute severe dehydration to less than two hours work is implausible. These facts, and others, were put to 7.30 but ignored.
Aerocare has investigated these and other claims that the ABC has put to it and in every instance provided comprehensive facts and rebuttals. 7.30 chose to report sensationalist allegations while ignoring or giving lip service to the truth and has failed in its commitment to fair and accurate reporting.
Aerocare Chief Executive Mr Rutherford said: “I have had strong feedback from a huge number of employees stating that they resent the TWU’s concerted campaign to undermine our company.
Aerocare goes to extraordinary lengths to engage with, look after and reward our employees, and senior management have direct contact with our front-line workers and conduct monthly staff surveys for any feedback. Aerocare has made significant investment in rostering practices and technology to maximise roster likability and minimise fatigue, as well as allowing flexibility for individuals. Any notion that Aerocare doesn’t care about people is ludicrous. Our employee ballot overwhelmingly supported the latest EBA and obviously provides the best possible evidence as to how Aerocare’s entire labour force views wage and overall employment conditions.
As regards the ABC, I find it hard to believe that a program and a broadcaster which commits to independence and integrity has run a story riddled with errors and statements from people who are disgruntled ex-employees of Aerocare in the context of a focussed campaign by the TWU.
The true story of Aerocare is one of a successful Australian employer with an industry-leading safety record, not the misleading claims of ex-employees now working for competitors or those seeking to undermine the company.”
Media Contacts: Peter Brookes, 0407 911 389 or Helen McCombie 0411 756 248 – Citadel-MAGNUS