Qantas is reportedly facing new questions regarding workplace safety as more flights are revealed to have been crewed by COVID-19 affected staff. The airline is also being questioned regarding its compliance with the 14-day self-isolation rule that has been mandated for airline crews.
The new revelations come along the heels of a workplace safety breach notice being lodged against Qantas by the Transport Working Union, following the diagnosis of a Sydney-based freight worker.
Qantas has reportedly rebuffed the union’s claims, stating that the worker contracted the infection from a family member.
Some of Qantas’ staff has already been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including a cluster of 8 cases in Adelaide among baggage handlers. This situation is currently under investigation.
The TWU has already expressed concerns to Qantas, alleging that the company has failed to curb the spread of the infection among workers, which it says has resulted in transmission to a significant number of workers in interstate and Sydney operations and also puts hundreds more at risk of exposure.
To that end, the union has asked Qantas to provide information on the number of COVID-19 infected workers, along with isolation measures initiated by the company for those who have been exposed to the virus, and copies of hazard management strategies to mitigate infection risk.
Qantas has termed the TWU’s allegations regarding the freight worker’s infection as baseless, and in turn, accused the union of attempting to garner political mileage on the back of its members’ misfortune.
A Qantas spokesperson has also stated that the union is aware of the possibility that the employee could have contracted the infection from an affected family member, rather than at work.
The airline further claims that COVID-19 transmission among flight staff is low risk, despite challenges to social distancing on airplanes.
Qantas is yet to respond to a request for comment.