Aerocare to probe staff sleep claims
Aerocare to probe staff sleep claims

Aviation services firm Aerocare has rejected claims it forces staff at Sydney Airport to sleep on the ground in baggage handling areas in between their shifts.

Staff from Aerocare, which provides services including baggage handling and aircraft cleaning, have claimed on ABC TV's 730 they sleep on makeshift beds in a staff-only area near the baggage carousel in the international terminal because they work split shifts that start early and finish late at night.

Aerocare chief executive Glenn Rutherford says while the company will investigate the claims, staff have access to their own lounge and he is unaware of employees sleeping between shifts in the baggage handling area.

"Aerocare does not and will not permit the 'camping out' that has been shown," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Baggage areas are carefully monitored and recorded by airport and Australian Border Force personnel. We have contacted both parties to confirm whether they have any record of such activity."

The report on 730 on Monday night included interviews with current and former Aerocare staff who said workers sleep on the ground in the baggage handling area as they often work a three-hour shift and then have a long break before their next one starts.

They raised concerns about low levels of pay for Aerocare staff, saying it didn't make financial sense for them to return home in between split shifts.

They also were worried about the potential safety implications of staff being tired from spending long hours at the airport.

Some of the claims were made by George Orsaris, who said he was an Aerocare driver and risked losing his job by speaking out.

However, Aerocare says Mr Orsaris was with the company for just two months before he quit last June while he was still being trained.

Aerocare says he had not worked any split shifts and had no access to the baggage handling areas that are also used by staff from other companies servicing Sydney Airport.

The claims about Aerocare have emerged as the company undertakes talks with the Transport Workers' Union about a new pay deal.

The TWU is pushing for minimum shift hours to be extended from three hours to four hours and the removal of any obligation for staff to work split shifts.

Staff are currently paid between about $21 an $27 an hour.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon accused Aerocare of paying "slave wages".

"This is being allowed to happen because airports and airlines are outsourcing work to low cost companies and not giving a damn about the workers in their supply chains that it affects," he said in a statement.

Aerocare said staff are offered the chance to work two shifts a day when it effectively doesn't have enough contracted work for them to make up a longer continuous shift.

It was also committed to "significant" wage increases.

AAP

Latest From 7News