Friday, November 26, 2010

Jetstar fires safety whistleblower

The usual Jetstar bloodymindedness. They sure hate criticism

JETSTAR has accused a former employee who publicly raised concerns the airline's cost-cutting methods of misleading the public with "numerous untruths".

First Officer Joe Eakins, 31, was fired after criticising the airline’s plan to hire air crews based in Singapore "on wages well below their Australian-based colleagues" and what effect this would have on passenger safety.

His concerns were outlined in an article published last month and he was sacked for breaching company policy of speaking publicly about the airline.

"I am shocked and saddened they have chosen to react this way," he told the Herald Sun. "I've been a good employee and I'm shocked any company would sack an employee for raising their concerns about safety and industrial issues, especially in the airline industry."

However Jetstar has hit back at his claims, saying they are “untrue”. "The employee chose to publicly make incorrect accusations on multiple and separate occasions against Jetstar with the effect of misleading the travelling public," the airline said in a statement.

The budget carrier said it sought to resolve the issue with Mr Eakins "on numerous occasions but there was no engagement, nor acknowledgement, than an issued existed".

Jetstar Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Officer David Hall said the airline has a healthy culture across its which encourages all employees to report and discuss any issues and concerns in relation to safety. “We will never, nor have, taken action against any employee for raising safety concerns - we welcome genuine engagement regarding safety from any part of our workforce - without fear or favour,” Mr Hall said.

“In the past, and moving forward, our pilots based in Singapore achieve better take home pay in comparison to our Australian pilots. “Assertions of a 50 per cent discrepancy in pilot pay between Australia and Singapore or circumvention of existing industrial law are patently false.

Mr Eakins has been contacted for comment regarding Jetstar's allegations.

The Australian and International Pilots Association says it has consulted lawyers over the incident and will take action via Fair Work Australia. Association president Barry Jackson described Mr Eakins as a whistleblower and hero to the Australian aviation community and vowed to "take this as far as we can". "Joe's bravery in blowing the whistle on some of these practices has been rewarded by an unfair dismissal," Mr Jackson said.

Mr Eakins said in his article that the Australian aviation sector "is at a crossroads". "Not only are the dreams of the youngsters who look skyward at risk, but the institutions that created our reputation for safety through well trained experienced pilots is under threat, which is bad news for all Australians."

Earlier this month a Jetstar training captain also questioned the airline's training methods and resources. Geoff Klouth, a Jetstar pilot for four years and commercial pilot since 1987, outlined his concerns at a senate inquiry into aviation training and standards. He said that as a result some flight attendants have completed their training without having operated on the airline’s A321 aircraft, leaving them unsure how to “arm” the doors.

"They have been unable to 'arm' doors. Arming the doors is necessary to allow for the automatic deployment of the emergency escape slide if the aircraft has to be evacuated," he said in his submission.

Klouth also raised concern about the increasing number of flight attendants who are based in Singapore and Bangkok yet operate domestically on international flights. “The foreign based crew all speak English but the ability to be understood in an emergency is an aspect of their training that is not effectively assessed.”

He said the increasing pressure airlines are under to cut costs may threaten air safety. “The CEO of Jetstar requires a ten percent reduction in the airline costs per year. In a safety sensitive industry this will result in a reduction of the safety margins that have contributed to Australia’s aviation safety record.


No comments:

Post a Comment