CASA technical staff have filed for protected industrial action, citing concerns over staffing levels and training.
Unions have pointed to a 2022 Australian National Audit Office report, which showed CASA’s surveillance activities declining by 31 per cent between 2017–18 and 2020–21, saying there is a “mismatch” between CASA staffing and anticipated surveillance levels.
According to Professionals Australia ACT Director Kathleen Studdert, CASA technical staff had previously raised these issues with management as being of “major concern”.
“Unfortunately, understaffing, patchy access to technical training and a classification structure incapable of effectively competing with the private sector means CASA doesn’t have the technical specialists it needs to carry out the necessary surveillance of aviation operators to keep air travel safe,” she said.
“That’s why we have called for a separate industrial agreement for CASA’s technical workforce. The new agreement would include the power to review and establish safe parameters for the numbers of aviation safety inspectors at CASA, allow staff to have input into how surveillance is conducted, and provide access to better quality, ongoing training.”
The union has also written to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) ahead of an audit of CASA expected in mid-September.
“CASA technical staff care deeply about aviation safety and our international reputation. They want to ensure CASA has the technical capabilities to ensure a culture of proactive safety,” said Studdert.
“Given our members are on the frontline of maintaining the safety of Australia’s air operations, we want to engage with ICAO to discuss our concerns about the aviation safety regime overseen by CASA.”
A CASA spokesperson told Australian Aviation that aviation safety would not be compromised by the proposed action.
“We are continuing to negotiate with the four unions representing CASA staff in good faith to reach an outcome for all of our people that is fair and equitable,” the spokesperson said.
“We have sufficient qualified staff available to continue to ensure the ongoing safety of aviation in Australia.”