Updated | Tanya Plibersek - the daughter of a Qantas worker - a key speaker at TWU's new Cronulla campaign office


Labor MP Tanya Plibersek says she understands Prime Minister Scott Morrison might not care what the Labor Party or the Transport Workers' Union has to say about supporting workers in the aviation industry.

"But, he should care about the jobs and income that have been lost by workers who live in his electorate," she said on Friday at the opening of a TWU campaign base in the same building in which Mr Morrison's electoral office is located at Cronulla.

About 30 aviation industry workers were present for a low-key media event in the mall, next to the offices.

Speakers included Ms Plibersek, who was Deputy Leader of the Opposition from 2013 to 2019, NSW TWU branch secretary Richard Olsen and union delegates.

Ms Plibersek, who grew up at Oyster Bay, said her father worked for Qantas for 20 years and she had fond memories of visits to the airport where the staff were so caring.

"This is an area where there are a lot of airport workers because it is such a quick trip over Captain Cook Bridge to get to work," she said.

"They are decent people and many have worked for the same company for decades.

"I have heard stories of people being cut back to two to three hours work a week. In a lot of families, both parents are in the industry."

The TWU claims hundreds of aviation families in the Cook electorate have been let down by Mr Morrison.

A response was sought from Mr Morrison's office on Thursday when the TWU initiative was announced. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack responded (see below).


Sydney airport workers from Qantas, Virgin and Dnata will fight to save their jobs from a campaign base in the same building in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison's electoral office is located at Cronulla.

The Transport Workers' Union (TWU) will open the office, on the edge of Cronulla mall, at a media event tomorrow (Friday).

The union says the office will be used to plan events and actions, provide support for stood down and unemployed aviation workers, lobby politicians and "engage with the local community about the federal government's lack of action on aviation".

TWU NSW branch secretary Richard Olsen said the office had been leased for a minimum of six months.

"I expect we will renew the lease when the time is up," he said

"By that time, it will probably be only three to six months from a federal election."

Mr Olsen said an initial search by the union found there were 4500 aviation workers in Mr Morrison's Cook electorate and surrounds.

"Hundreds of aviation families in Cook have been let down by the Prime Minister as their local member and head of government," he said.

"This office has been created by them because they are demanding more from their representative."

In June this year, Qantas announced it would cut at least 6000 jobs across all parts of the business in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, Qantas revealed plans that could cost a further 2500 jobs by outsourcing ground handling at major airports. Qantas said work done by employees such as baggage handlers, tug drivers and cabin cleaners was already outsourced at smaller airports.

A spokeswoman for the Deputy Prime MinisterMichael McCormack said, "These are difficult times for the aviation sector and that's why we've invested $1.3 billion to ensure the sector can get through this pandemic.

"What the border closures mean is that planes are not flying interstate. We need that to change because planes in the air means jobs on the ground.

"We urge and encourage those Premiers who have border closures in place to think about that and to think about easing those restrictions so we get planes back in the air interstate, so that we can ensure that people can go on holidays, can go for business interstate. It's so important.

"And the main thing is the workers. People need their jobs back.

"Pilots need to get back behind the cockpit controls. Ground staff need their jobs back and so many of them have been laid off and we want them back in planes.

"JobKeeper has kept workers connected to business but we need planes in the air.

"As Qantas have themselves said, we need Premiers and Chief Ministers to look at their border restrictions and say enough's enough and help aviation get back to work."