13 Mar 2007

Changi prisoner claim 'outrageous'

Can the Singapore Prisons Department be contacted? How can we verify the truth of this news story? What is the implication if it is true?

From The Australian
Changi prisoner claim 'outrageous'
Steve Creedy Aviation writer
13 March

ANGRY Qantas officials have attacked as "outrageous" claims by an engineering union in a Senate committee that prisoners were used to work on Qantas aircraft in Singapore.

Qantas executive general manager engineering David Cox categorically denied the claim, saying no prisoners had access to Qantas aircraft undergoing maintenance in Singapore or any other facility.

“This is part of an industrially motivated campaign by the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association aimed at protecting uncompetitive work practices in Australia,” Mr Cox said.

The stinging response came after ALAEA federal secretary told a Senate Economics Committee hearing into legislation covering the proposed Qantas takeover that day release prisoners from Sinagpore's Changi Prison are used to clean Qantas aircraft.

“The prisoners are used to wash down the wheel well bays before inspections, they're used to go upstairs into the flight deck of the aircraft and to clean the area out so it's ready for inspection by the local engineers,” Mr Purvinas said.

Mr Cox said other statements made by the union in its submission to the inquiry into aspect of the Qantas Sale Act, and at today’s hearing in Canberra were also incorrect.

Unions are worried the airline will use loopholes in the Qantas Sale Act to transfer work to its low-cost international Jetstar subsidiary and send it offshore.

They are supporting a push by Family First senator Steve Fielding for changes to the Qantas Sale Act to close the loopholes and make Jetstar International operate under the same conditions as Qantas.

Several are also calling on parliament to enshrine in law the airline's employment obligations, national defence responsibilities and safety standards.

But Qantas has assured the committee that concerns it would sell off Jetstar to an overseas buyer are unfounded and run counter to the group's strategy.

The airline argued that ownership provisions of the Air Navigation Act requiring that Australian international carriers be at least 51 per cent Australian owned meant a sale to foreign owners could not occur.

“There is no loophole that needs to be closed by the Bill,” it said.

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