27 November 2010

JETSTAR WHISTLEBLOWER SACKED - Pilots union issue threat after Jetstar whistleblower Joe Eakins sacked

Jetstar pilot Joe Eakins has been fired by the airline

UPDATE 4:17pm: JETSTAR will be challeged over claims its fired a whistleblower who criticised the budget airline for "diminishing safety standards", the pilot's union says.

First Officer Joe Eakins, 31, criticised cost-cutting at Jetstar and the plan to hire air crews based in Singapore "on wages well below their Australian-based colleagues" and what effect this would have on passenger safety.

Eakins has been sacked for breaching company policy of speaking publicly about the airline in an article published last month.

"I am shocked and saddened they have chosen to react this way," he told the Herald Sun.

"I've been a good employee and I'm shocked any company would sack an employee for raising their concerns about safety and industrial issues, especially in the airline industry."

His said his treatment by the company did not "bode well for any other pilot with safety concerns".

"I believe the concerns I voiced were reasonable and legitimate," Mr Eakins said on Friday.

"I was acting within my rights as a union representative who advanced views of the association.

"I think Jetstar's actions were unwarranted and unjustified."

The airline disagrees, saying his claims are are “untrue”.

"The employee chose to publicly make incorrect accusations on multiple and separate occasions against Jetstar with the effect of misleading the travelling public," the airline said in a statement.

The Australian and International Pilots Association had said earlier this week it was prepared to take the case to the High Court and did not ruled out pursuing industrial action.

Association president Barry Jackson described Eakins as a whistleblower and hero to the Australian aviation community.

"Joe's bravery in blowing the whistle on some of these practices has been rewarded by an unfair dismissal," Captain Jackson said.

"The association will be taking Joe's case to Fair Work Australia, claiming unfair dismissal and making an adverse-action claim under untested Fair Work laws.

"The association is calling on all federal parliamentarians to carefully consider the implications of this shocking case."

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway confirmed the first officer had been sacked "after a standard and lengthy process" for bringing the company into disrepute and said there were many "internal measures" for raising safety concerns.

"The Australian aviation sector is at a crossroads. Not only are the dreams of the youngsters who look skyward at risk, but the institutions that created our reputation for safety through well trained experienced pilots is under threat, which is bad news for all Australians."


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