Qantas has received a letter from SafeWork NSW to say it is being investigated after standing down a COVID-19 whistleblower.
The employee is a cleaner, union delegate and elected health and safety rep. They were stood down on 2 February. Qantas told ABC News Australia “A union delegate was stood down pending an investigation after incorrectly telling employees it was not safe to work on aircraft arriving from China in early February. This was against the advice of health authorities and despite additional safety equipment being provided to employees.”
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) “believes there is ample evidence to prove that Qantas engaged in discriminatory and prohibited behaviour.” TWU NSW Branch Secretary, Richard Olsen also told ABC, “it is incomprehensible to the TWU that the Sydney worker was stood down due to his concerns for his co-workers.”
Qantas has said it will co-operate with the investigation, but won’t re-instate the worker. Qantas faces a fine of $500 000 if it is found to of discriminated against the employee.
Qantas has already been issued with an “improvement notice” after a FairWork NSW inspector found the workers or passengers may be put at risk due to it’s “inadequate system of work used to clean planes that may have transported passengers with an infectious disease” according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The airline said it was investigating the claims and is considering appealing the notice.