SYDNEY, Australia – Thousands of employees from Dnata, a company that supplies in-flight catering to airline flights, including that of Qantas, have their JobKeeper eligibility revoked.
The recent news that employees will not receive JobKeeper payments anymore, despite having eligibility for the scheme previously, was taken as a kick in their guts.
Late on Monday, employees of Dnata were told that they would not have JobKeeper eligibility anymore due to the recent changes made. On May 1, the Federal Government decided to exclude sovereign entity companies and employers from the payment scheme.
It means that Dnata employees will no longer receive the much-needed relief from the Australian Government during this ongoing crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is because the company is currently under the Emirates Group, which the Government of Dubai is the owner. Dnata is the one supplying frozen meals to airline companies, including Qantas, for their flights.
The news devastated thousands of Dnata employees, primarily as most of them have worked for Qantas for several decades. That was before the catering business of the airline got purchases by Dnata in 2018.
Some of the Dnata workers expressed their dismay about the decision of the Federal Government to revoke their JobKeeper eligibility, especially during a time when they need it the most.
Most of the employees of the catering company are Australians, much to their dismay, since they are paying their taxes but wouldn’t be able to receive the financing aid from the Australian Government.
Dnata has been in business in the country for years, starting in 2007. It employs around 6,000 workers whom they disperse in nine airports in Australia. The catering business, which was previously under Qantas, got purchased by Dnata. In 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave their approval on the acquisition.
Previously, a spokesperson from Dnata said on an interview that thousands of their workers got approved for the eligibility of the JobKeeper scheme by the Australian Taxation Office.
She noted that the company already enrolled in qualifying for the scheme to help its workers during the crisis. The spokesperson also commented that Dnata implemented plans and policies for the payment and retention of all their Australian workers.
However, with the recent news of the Federal Government backtracking from its previous decision and amending its legislation for the scheme, Dnata expressed their surprise and disappointment.
At short notice, the change in the JobKeeper legislation excludes Dnata from the eligible companies to receive the financial aid. That means around 6,000 Australians employed by the company will not get the JobKeeper payment from the Government.
The catering company further stated that the amendment done by the Government to the JobKeeper scheme is putting over 4,500 jobs on the edge. It’s also putting thousands of their workers and their families without income and aid from the Government during a terrible crisis on incredibly short notice.
The company added that 4,000 employees got stood down indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic effects on the business.
One employee of Dnata said in an interview that they are temporarily let go from work since March 30 without any income. That is unless they go for annual leave or take the minimal number of workhours currently on offer by the company.
The worker also commented that most of them registered for the JobSeeker scheme previously. However, the process got halted after they learned they are eligible for the JobKeeper payments. That was a month ago.
For the last month, Dnata employees were mostly relying on the back pay they are receiving. However, their eligibility for the JobSeeker payment is not in question, so is their future as the country tries to brave the ongoing health crisis with no income for workers.
Employees of the catering business are saying that the recent amendment from the Federal Government is a kick in the guts, something that no one needs at this time. Notably, according to them, as the change happened one month after they are already relying on the financial aid that they were going to receive.
Meanwhile, according to the Australian Services Union, the Federal Government already made the changes the previous week. They decided to exclude companies that are under foreign government ownership 100%, whether or not they are doing business or residents of the country.
Since Dnata is entirely under the ownership of the Dubai government, all its employees, whether they are Australians or not, will not be eligible for the JobKeeper scheme.
A spokeswoman of the ASU said that government employers, which include Dnata, have more capacity to support all their workers. It was the primary reason why the Federal Government opted out the sovereign entity from its JobKeeper scheme eligibility.
Meanwhile, the spokeswoman of Dnata further expressed their dismay as their business is a resident of Australia for tax purposes. Also, the majority of their workers are Australians.
She also commented that the playing field in the catering sector is currently uneven as none of their competitors are suffering the same exclusion from the JobKeeper scheme as them.