Qantas has confirmed it stood down a staff member who raised safety concerns about the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh said the employee went to management a month ago and was suspended. Mr McIntosh also claimed two other workers who spoke up were disciplined.
Qantas told nine.com.au the man was stood down pending an investigation after he was found to be spreading misinformation about the virus.
"A TWU delegate was stood down pending an investigation after incorrectly telling employees it was not safe to work on aircraft arriving from China," a spokesman said.
"This is against the advice of health authorities and despite additional safety equipment being provided to employees."
The incident was related to a flight from Shanghai on February 2. Qantas has since suspended flights to and from China.
It comes after SafeWork NSW issued the airline with two improvement notices relating to the cleanliness of their planes during the coronavirus outbreak.
"On Tuesday, SafeWork NSW issued Qantas with two improvement notices that found it had failed in its duty to provide for the health and safety of its workers," Mr McIntosh said at Melbourne Airport today.
"Improvement notices found cabin cleaners were forced to handle wet tissues, soiled nappies, used passenger facemasks and clean vomit and blood without adequate personal protective equipment.
"Due to these unsafe systems of work, which also include workers being forced to use one wet cloth to clean multiple tray tables, to clean unknown substances inside the cabin without the use of disinfectant… passengers have also potentially been exposed to the coronavirus," he said.
Mr McIntosh called on Qantas to reinstate the suspended worker and issue apologies to him, the wider workforce, and passengers.
Qantas said it was investigating the allegations made by SafeWork NSW.
"We are investigating claims made by SafeWork NSW, after an inspector observed one of our aircraft being cleaned in Sydney last week. We are considering appealing the notice," a spokesperson for the airline said.
"Qantas is not known for being complacent when it comes to safety or the cleanliness of our aircraft.
"All of our Fleet Presentation teams are provided with personal protective equipment for cleaning the aircraft and for more hazardous items, we have additional equipment such as masks and safety suits.
"Our aircraft are thoroughly cleaned after each international flight."
Last night a Qantas flight due to depart Sydney and fly to London was cancelled after a passenger onboard tested positive to COVID-19.
Passengers set to fly on QF1 were moved to the next available flight.
A Qantas spokesperson said the cleaning operation was in addition to the regular cleaning which takes place after each flight.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/qantas-staffer-stood-down-after-raising-coronavirus-fears/a4c71b5a-258e-45a7-8648-95dc84bcb451