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Unions “deeply concerned” about Flight Centre claims

Unions say they’re “deeply concerned” about claims of the underpayment and bullying of staff at travel giant Flight Centre.

The Australian Services Union on Thursday said it had raised the issues previously with the Fair Work Ombudsman but more evidence had been brought to light in an investigation by the ABC.

“We are currently in discussions with Flight Centre, where we aim to significantly improve workers’ pay and conditions and bring about significant change,” the ASU said in a statement.

In an ABC  investigation dozens of current and former employees of the travel agent giant said they were pressured by management to ‘deceive’ customers by adding extra costs on bookings, from $30 to thousands of dollars.

A spokesperson from Flight Centre told Dynamic Business, “We believe we have a very strong and positive culture, which is generally celebrated and has in fact led to us winning a number of awards. Many of these awards are based on our people’s feedback and the response today has been overwhelmingly positive.”

“In terms of pay and conditions, we strongly denied the allegations that the ABC put to us, particularly in relation to our people being paid below Award levels or required to pay the cost of price beats,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s disappointing that these allegations have been aired publicly but it has also highlighted the need to move to simpler and easier to understand pay model, which is what we are doing currently via an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. The EBA is reliant on us ensuring that our people are better off overall and we have already made this commitment to them.

“Margins are generally paid to the company by the supplier. Our margin information is publicly available and it does not support claims that either excessive marking up is taking place or that it is happening more frequently.”

In better news for the company, Flight Centre’s international business has taken off, helping lift the travel agency’s full-year profit by 13.9 per cent to $262.9 million.

Businesses in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa generated about 40 per cent of underlying profit, while the company’s revenue also rose, by 6.5 per cent, to $2.95 billion in the year to June 30.

Flight Centre declared a final dividend of $1.07, up from 94 cents a year earlier.

With AAP.

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Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher, editor, Dynamic Business

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