Australian baggage handlers have been given a stark warning by the CEO of the nation’s top ground handling provider after shocking footage of mishandling surfaced online.
Qantas and Swissport Australia have launched an “urgent investigation” after workers were filmed slamming luggage onto a conveyor belt.
Footage believed to have been filmed at Melbourne Airport shows three baggage handlers – who have stood down pending investigation – throwing, kicking and slamming passengers’ luggage onto a conveyor belt.
Some bags are thrown so hard that they fall off the other side of the belt.
One man laughs as the other lifts the bag over his head and throws it hard at the belt.
In another instance, one of the three handlers is shown throwing a bag well past the line, despite being right in front of the belt.
A Qantas spokesman said the incident was “totally unacceptable” and confirmed an “urgent” investigation was underway.
Qantas contracts with Swissport for ground handling at Melbourne Airport.
A spokesman for Swissport said the employees involved have been suspended while the incident is investigated.
“Swissport trains and directs all employees to handle customers’ goods with care and diligence,” they said.
“The actions of the staff in the video appear to be inconsistent with these service level standards.
“As a result, the workers in question were dismissed pending an urgent investigation.”
A staff memo from Swissport Australia CEO Brad Moore, seen by news.com.au, warned staff of “severe disciplinary action” after the discovery on Saturday morning.
“It is with regret that I advise that evidence has come to light today that Swissport staff have been treating customers’ luggage in an unacceptable manner,” Mr Moore wrote to staff.
“Our 3,000 strong team across the network work hard to ensure these standards are met and it is important that we take action when these standards are breached by a small group of individuals.
“The behavior in the video has disappointed us all – most importantly our frontline staff who have worked so hard to ensure quality standards during (Covid) difficult conditions.
Mr Moore assured staff that those who breached Swissport standards would be dealt with.
“Disrespectful behavior towards our customers’ luggage and personal belongings will not be tolerated and will result in serious disciplinary action,” he said.
“The people in the video have been dismissed pending an urgent investigation.”
“Since the video was released, I have received many messages from team members across the network sharing these concerns and expressing their commitment to our Safety and Service standards. We cannot allow the actions of a very small minority to undermine the first-class standards of the majority.”
It comes after a difficult year for the national carrier, which came under the scrutiny of an ABC Four Corners investigation earlier this year, with flight delays, cancellations and other high-profile incidents of baggage loss and mishandling.
People on social networks were horrified as they responded to the images of the confrontation.
“It’s sad but to be honest I don’t expect any better from Qantas,” said one.
“Is it like a competition to destroy the trunk the fastest?” another thought.
“You have got to be kidding me! If someone looks at their stuff like that, they’re going to stink,” added another.
Others suggested that these men should be fired for what appeared to be a complete disregard for other people’s property.
When will they be fired?” one asked.
“Looks like they don’t want to work anymore,” said another.
“I’ve dealt with luggage and I’ve never seen anything like this, and if I did I wouldn’t mind getting a controller.”