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Published on Friday, April 3, 2020

Qantas investigated for suspending worker who raised coronavirus concerns

Qantas is facing an investigation by SafeWork NSW alleging it suspended an aircraft cleaner in February for highlighting concerns about coronavirus exposure at work.

The worker is a union delegate and health and safety rep.

The airline refused to reinstate the employee despite critical media coverage and pressure from the Transport Workers' Union.

Qantas denies any wrongdoing.

"A union delegate was stood down pending an investigation after incorrectly telling employees it was not safe to work on aircraft arriving from China," a Qantas spokesman said.

"This was against the advice of health authorities and despite additional safety equipment being provided to employees."

TWU NSW branch secretary Richard Olsen said Qantas could be hit with hefty fines for 'discriminatory conduct and prohibited behaviour.'

"If safety reps at Qantas can't stand up to unsafe work practices, then no worker is safe," Olsen said.

"It is incomprehensible to the TWU that the Sydney worker was stood down due to his concerns for his co-workers.

"Now with the company-wide stand down, Qantas have put their own internal investigation on hold, leaving the worker uncertain of his future, and we are watching the company scramble to manage their own actions," Olsen added.

Qantas said it has implemented 'enhanced safety measures in place to protect our employees and customers', however it is facing similar accusations of negligence at Adelaide Airport where 11 baggage handlers have contracted the covid-19 virus.

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