Qantas workers at Darwin airport will today meet with union president Sharan Burrow to discuss their concerns over the Federal Government’s refusal to provide a guarantee that Australian jobs will be protected in the proposed $11 billion sale of Qantas to a group of local and foreign private investors.

 ACTU President Sharan Burrow is visiting the Darwin area today and tomorrow.

 Ms Burrow said today:

 “Treasurer Peter Costello has refused to protect the jobs of Qantas’s 37,000 workers, including around 150 workers at Darwin airport.

 “Instead of providing a jobs guarantee to Qantas workers the Treasurer has said that whether Qantas jobs remained in Australia was an issue for the company’s management and not the Government.

 “But a recent poll of voters in marginal seats across Australia including the key Northern Territory seat of Solomon shows just how out of touch with community opinion is the Treasurer.

 “The poll shows 86% of voters want the Federal Government to place an enforceable condition on the Qantas sale that airline maintenance and customer service jobs will not be sent overseas and 94% want to see regional routes and services protected.

 “We need the Federal Government to stand up for Australian jobs and stand up for the wages and conditions of workers like those at Darwin’s Gate Gourmet,” said Ms Burrows.


 Ms Burrow will also today meet with Darwin airline catering workers who are currently facing a real pay cut and a dramatic loss of working conditions from their employer, Gate Gourmet.

 The Darwin Gate Gourmet workers earn around $17 an hour and the company is asking them to cop a real pay cut as well as substantial cuts to job conditions, including:

 * Reductions in long service leave, redundancy pay, bereavement leave and a cut in sick leave from 15 days to 10 days.

 * Removing all allowances, annual leave loading, leave without pay and days in lieu;

 * Reducing overtime pay and cutting penalty rates for weekend work by half.

 * Removal of one week of annual leave.

 Gate Gourmet is contracted to provide catering to Qantas in Darwin and is partly owned by multinational investment firm Texas Pacific.

 Texas Pacific is one of the principal investors in the private equity takeover bid for Qantas airlines.

 “Airline workers in Darwin are in the firing line from an employer that is trying to cut their take home pay and a Federal Government that is refusing to stand up for Australian jobs,” said Ms Burrow.