The Federal Government is blocking the full payment of outstanding entitlements to former Ansett employees who are still owed $400 million one year after the airlines collapse.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the eight-week cap on redundancy payments under the Governments employee entitlement scheme meant that ex-Ansett employees had been short-changed on average by $25,000 each, receiving only about half what they are owed.
The Government is blocking any further payments to former employees by clawing back $300 million from company administrators before outstanding entitlements are paid.
The news follows confirmation this week that former Ansett chief Gary Toomey received a $3.5 million payout after the airline was placed in administration and grounded last September.
“The Government should stop trying to double-dip into the funds of the Ansett administration to pay for employee entitlements and instead use funds from its $10 air ticket levy, which was legislated for that express purpose,” Ms Burrow said.
“The Government is tying the hands of company administrators, who cannot pay further entitlements to employees until they first repay the Government for payments made through the Special Employee Entitlement Scheme for Ansett.
“The Howard Government is blocking the full payment of outstanding entitlements to former Ansett workers and misleading the travelling public, who are paying an estimated $10 million a month in the air ticket levy to pay Ansett staff,” Ms Burrow said.
Section 7 of the Governments Air Passenger Ticket Levy Collection Act introduced in October 2001 says: “The purpose of the levy is to meet the cost of payments by the Commonwealth under the Special Employee Entitlements Scheme for Ansett (SEESA) group employees.”
Ms Burrow said that most former Ansett employees are struggling financially because of the difficulty in finding permanent jobs on equivalent incomes. Former employees on average were owed 42 weeks in redundancy payments, leaving 34 weeks of unpaid entitlements over and above the eight-week cap on payments from the Governments SEESA scheme.
Former Ansett workers will mark the anniversary of the grounding of the airline on September 14 with reunion events in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday week.