“This article was published by The Canberra Times on July 18 2016. Author: Matthew Raggatt. The original can be accessed here.”
The agency managing the country’s airspace will start shedding up to one in five of its staff this week, but workers say their employer won’t discuss how the job losses will affect safety.
From Wednesday, Airservices Australia is expected to tell up to 600 of its staff they will be made voluntarily redundant, though the organisation reportedly has plans to retrench a further 300.
The employees will be largely corporate-services staff, most of whom work in Canberra and Brisbane.
Airservices chief executive Jason Harfield, who was appointed to the job earlier this year, has excluded “frontline” employees, such as air-traffic controllers and firefighters, from the cuts.
However, a union says the agency has refused to reveal the findings of a safety review of the job losses, which the agency was legally obliged to carry out.
Professionals Australia’s ACT director, David Smith, said engineers and technicians were among those who had applied for a redundancy package, leading to fears that Airservices’ work could be compromised.
“If they’ve done a safety review, they should be sharing the results with staff and with the public,” Mr Smith said.
“We need to see that they’ve covered off all the likely safety risks of a change of this magnitude.
“There’s too much public interest at stake in ensuring that we don’t have unnecessary dangers creep into the delivering of our air services.”
However, the organisation said this week it had completed the safety review as required, and was “working through a detailed and thorough process to reduce the size of our corporate centre and ensure the safety of our operations is maintained”.
“We understand the difficulty and uncertainty this [redundancy process] creates for staff and we want to progress through this as quickly as possible,” a spokeswoman said.
“We will continue to deliver our air-traffic control and aviation-rescue firefighting services to serve our customers during this internal change.
“Streamlining our corporate centre is a necessary process if we are to become a more efficient and agile business.”
Staff will have two weeks to decide whether to accept the redundancy offer.
The government-owned corporation employs about 4400 people, most based in Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra.
It is set to make its first loss this year, of about $13.5 million, and hopes to slash its costs by $100 million in coming years.
Mr Harfield told Fairfax Media earlier this month that because Airservices’ revenue came from airlines, “it was not going to go down well for us to put up our prices when there is a view we are inefficient”.
“Our previous operating model served us well, but it became unsustainable. Now we are focusing on what we were chartered to do: aviation control, rescue safety and firefighting.”
The original can be accessed here.”