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Union slams Qantas with legal action after cleaner stood down on coronavirus fears

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Transport Workers Union believes the cleaner was unfairly suspended after telling co-workers not to clean planes that had landed from China.

The Transport Workers Union has taken legal action against Qantas after one of its cleaners was suspended for allegedly raising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 on its aircraft.

Yesterday Qantas told the man was stood down pending an investigation after he was found to be spreading misinformation about the virus.

The airline claimed the cleaner was telling co-workers it was not safe to work on aircraft arriving from China, specifically a plane that landed in Australia from Shanghai on February 2.

READ MORE: Qantas worker stood down after raising coronavirus fears

Coronavirus: Qantas cleanliness questioned amid outbreak

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has this morning applied to the Fair Work Commission after it formally requested Qantas reinstate the man on full duties.

A recent Safe Work NSW report issued the airline with two improvement notices relating to the cleanliness of their planes during the coronavirus outbreak.

TWU Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh argued the report showed the cleaner was justified in his criticism of the airline.

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A Qantas employee has been stood down after raising coronavirus fears (file photo).

"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," Mr McIntosh said.

"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."

The Federal Government has imposed a travel ban on people entering Australia from China, Iran and South Korea, and Qantas has since suspended flights to China since February 2.

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In a statement, a spokesperson for the airline said it was investigating claims made by the TWU and Safe Work 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," the spokesperson said.

"Qantas is not known for being complacent when it comes to safety or the cleanliness of our aircraft.

READ MORE: How airlines are protecting passengers from the coronavirus outbreak

Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus as of March 5.

"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."

Source: 9News

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