Qantas suspends worker for allegedly spreading coronavirus misinformation

Qantas said an employee has been stood down for spreading misinformation about the safety of working on flights from China amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the Transport Workers’ Union said the man was simply providing advice to colleagues on their rights.

The airline on Saturday announced it would suspend its two direct services to mainland China from 9 February due to travel restrictions imposed by other countries in the wake of the health crisis.

A Qantas employee – who is also a delegate of the TWU – was stood down on Sunday pending an investigation.

A source said the worker told other employees it was not safe to work on flights arriving from China, going against the advice of health authorities.

Employees have been provided with additional safety equipment.

Qantas Medical’s Dr Russell Brown said the airline would never ask employees to work in unsafe conditions.

“The TWU knows full well that the risk of aviation workers contracting coronavirus as a result of working on an aircraft originating from China is very low,” Brown said in a statement on Thursday.

Brown said additional protective measures were being put in place on flights from China to further reduce the risk of employees contracting coronavirus.

The union has called on Qantas to re-instate the worker who’s a trained health and safety representative.

The TWU says the employee – who is an elected representative of his co-workers – was stood down after providing advice to colleagues on their rights relating to the coronavirus under health and safety laws.

NSW branch secretary Richard Olsen rejects the notion the worker was spreading misinformation.

“We call on Qantas to immediately reinstate the worker … and to withdraw letters of intimidation to people who expressed concerns about working on flights from China,” Olsen said in a statement on Thursday.

Qantas employees had previously been threatened with disciplinary action if they refused to work on flights from China.

A handful of employees received letters instructing them to continue working on aircraft operating from ports in China.

The airline made it clear if they failed to do so they could face disciplinary action including dismissal.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, says the Qantas directive is “a matter between that employee and the company like it would be anywhere”.

There are now 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Australia with four each in NSW, Victoria and Queensland and two in South Australia.

So far the virus has infected 28,000 people globally with 563 deaths confirmed.


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.