The Gillard Government stands ready to assist employees of Air Australia after the airline ceased flying following the voluntary appointment of administrators.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten expressed his sincere concern for stranded passengers and their families and assured the Government is ready to assist any Australian employees of Air Australia with concerns they may have in light of this company going into administration.
“The information we have is that at this stage it appears that workers have only been stood down and not been made redundant,” Mr Shorten said.
“However I have been in close contact with the administrators early today and they have agreed to work closely with my Department to be ready and able to assist workers with any appropriate entitlements as swiftly as possible.”
“If Air Australia ultimately enters liquidation and is not able to pay employees the entitlements they are owed, then the redundant workers may be entitled to receive all or some of those entitlements through the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS).
While workers are not necessarily eligible for income support, workers can talk to Centrelink about their individual circumstances to discuss services which may be available to them. The Centrelink Hotline is 13 28 50.
Any workers who are made redundant will be eligible for employment support with a Job Services Australia provider based on their level of need and personal circumstances. Redundant workers will also be encouraged to contact Centrelink who can provide free, unbiased financial advice about their redundancy package and Government assistance. Centrelink will assess workers’ eligibility for income support which may depend on their individual circumstances, including income and assets.
Mr Shorten said the Government is also concerned about public allegations made today that Air Australia staff working in Australia have been underpaid.
“I have this morning referred this issue to the Fair Work Ombudsman for investigation,” he said.
“Fair Work inspectors have already commenced inquiries and are encouraging any Air Australia employees concerned about their pay and conditions to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Any employees concerned about their pay and conditions should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 to provide their details to assist with the Ombudsman’s investigation.
Passengers holding Air Australia tickets for future flights should consult Air Australia’s offices regarding alternative arrangements or refunds. Contact details are www.airaustralia.com or call 135 320.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can provide consular assistance to Australians stranded overseas.
Should passengers or their relatives require urgent consular assistance, they can contact the DFAT’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre within Australia on 1300 555 135 or if overseas on +61 2 6261 3305.
Media Release: Government ready to help Air Australia workers
17 February 2012