The Transport Workers Union is calling for a more intensive investigation into an accident at Perth Airport last week where a ground operations vehicle crashed into a Qantas jet.
The union has claimed a worker could have been killed when the brakes on their vehicle failed and they crashed into the underside of a Boeing 737 that had landed from Melbourne last Friday.
Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary Michael Kaine said the contractor narrowly avoided injury but was trapped under the plane until it could be moved.
“This is a major safety breach and could have resulted in the injury or death of workers and passengers,” he said.
“Qantas may have outsourced its ground work but it must take full responsibility for what is happening.
“Qantas took the irresponsible decision to outsource its entire ground operations, choosing to cut costs at the expense of worker and passenger safety.”
Qantas claims outsourcing often safer
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Qantas denied passenger safety had been compromised, saying the incident was being investigated and engineering works were underway to repair the aircraft.
“The TWU knows full well that external ground handlers are no less safe and in some cases their safety performance is better than work done in-house,” she said.
“When this work was done in-house we had 0.8 aircraft damage events per 1,000 flights compared to 0.4 for outsourced operations.
“Menzies has provided ground handling services to the Qantas Group for decades and started providing these services to Qantas at Perth Airport earlier this year.”
The spokeswoman also said Menzies was a highly experienced provider of ground-handling services and all ground handlers were required to follow Qantas’ safety policies and procedures.
A Federal Court ruling is pending on the outsourcing of 2,000 Qantas ground workers, which the TWU argued is illegal under the Fair Work Act.
Qantas has recently announced job cuts for international cabin crew, a two-year wage freeze for its staff, and flagged a $2 billion expected loss.
The TWU is among unions taking legal action against Qantas, including a Federal Court case that would reverse the outsourcing of Qantas’ 2,000 ground workers.
A spokeswoman for WorkSafe WA confirmed it would be investigating the incident.