Baggage handlers in Australia have received a stern warning from the CEO of a major national ground services provider after shocking images of mishandling emerged online.
Qantas and Swissport Australia have launched an ‘urgent investigation’ after employees were filmed slamming luggage onto a conveyor belt.
The footage, believed to have been filmed at Melbourne Airport, shows three baggage handlers – who have been suspended pending an 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.
A man is shown laughing as another man lifts a bag above his head, throwing it forcefully towards the belt.
In another instance, one of the three handlers is shown throwing a sack a considerable distance down the line, although the belt is right in front of him.
A Qantas spokesman said the incident was “clearly unacceptable”, confirming an “urgent” investigation was underway.
Qantas uses Swissport for ground handling at Melbourne Airport.
A spokesman for Swissport said the workers involved had been removed from their jobs while they investigated what happened.
“Swissport trains and manages all staff to handle customer property with care and diligence,” they said.
“The actions of the staff in the video appear to have violated these service level standards.
“As a result, the staff in question have been removed from their posts pending an urgent investigation.”
A staff memo from Swissport Australia CEO Brad Moore, seen by news.com.au, warned staff of “serious disciplinary action” following Saturday morning’s revelation.
“It is with regret that I inform that evidence has emerged today that Swissport staff are handling customer luggage in an unacceptable way,” Mr Moore wrote to staff.
“Our 3,000 strong team across the network works hard to ensure these standards are upheld, and it’s important that when these standards are breached by a small group of individuals, we take action.
“The behaviors in the video have let us all down – especially our frontline staff who have worked so hard during (Covid) to ensure quality standards under sometimes difficult circumstances.
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 individuals in the video have been removed from their positions pending an urgent investigation.”
“Since the release of the video, I have received many messages from team members across the network, sharing these concerns and also expressing their commitment to our safety and service standards. We cannot let the actions of a very small minority undermine the first-class standards of the many.
It comes after a turbulent year for the national air carrier, plagued by flight delays, cancellations and other high-profile incidents of lost and mishandled baggage, which have been investigated by ABC Four Corners earlier this year.
People on social media were appalled as they responded to the confrontational images.
“It’s sad but honestly I don’t expect better from Qantas anymore,” said one.
“Is it like a competition who can destroy baggage fastest?” another thought.
“You must be kidding me! I bet they would kick their ass if someone treated their business that way,” another added.
Others have suggested that the men should be fired for what appears to be a complete disregard for other people’s property.
When are they going to get fired? we asked.
“Looks like they don’t want to work anymore,” said another.
“I’ve worked the baggage, and I’ve never seen anything like it, if I did, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring in a supervisor.”