Baggage handlers filmed slamming luggage onto conveyor belt at Melbourne airport stood down

Baggage handlers filmed throwing luggage and slamming bags onto a conveyor belt at Melbourne airport have been immediately stood down pending an investigation.

The minute-long footage, reportedly filmed at Melbourne airport, shows baggage handlers deliberately slamming luggage into a conveyor belt, throwing suitcases high into the air, and hurling one bag so forcefully it falls off the conveyor belt altogether.

The three men, in hi-vis jackets, are unloading a Qantas-branded luggage container. They can be seen smiling as they throw luggage on to the conveyor belt.

Related: Australians to face sky-high air fares over Christmas as threat of industrial action at Qantas looms

Amid outrage online, the footage has been set to the song I Still Call Australia Home, which is used by Qantas in its advertising campaigns.

The men are employees of Qantas subcontractor Swissport, which Qantas uses to perform “ground handling services” at Melbourne airport.

“The behaviour in this video is clearly not acceptable, and our contracted ground handler is conducting an urgent investigation,” a Qantas spokesperson told the Guardian.

The Guardian understands the men will not work on Qantas flights again.

A spokesperson for Swissport said: “Swissport trains and manages all staff to handle customer possessions with care and diligence.

“The actions of staff in the video appear to have contravened those service level standards.

“As a result, the staff in question have been stood down pending an urgent investigation.”

The Swissport chief executive, Brad Moore, wrote to staff saying “the behaviours in the video let all of us down”.

“Disrespectful behaviour to our customer luggage and personal effects will not be tolerated and will result in serious disciplinary action.

“Rest assured this matter will be investigated with urgency with appropriate follow-up action. The unacceptable behaviour of a few individuals will not go unchecked nor be allowed to tarnish the quality work of our whole team.”

Qantas’s workplace practices with baggage handling has been the subject of significant controversy. In 2021 the company moved to outsource ground handling operations at 10 Australian airports, including Melbourne, resulting in 2,000 roles being made redundant.

The federal court ruled Qantas’s actions were illegal, and the Transport Workers Union, representing the workers, is seeking compensation for those who lost their jobs. Qantas has appealed the decision to the high court.

Qantas has suffered a turbulent year emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, with flights plagued by delays, cancellations and incidents of baggage loss and mishandling. The airline was the subject of a Four Corners investigation earlier this year, which focused on an alleged high-pressure and divisive work culture and corporate cost-cutting practices.

Qantas was also awarded a Shonky award this year by consumer watchdog group Choice for its poor customer service.

The airline has returned to profitability, telling the market in an October trading update it expected to post a profit between $1.2bn and $1.3bn for the first half of this financial year. It said on-time performance had improved, while remaining below its 75% target, and cancellations and mishandled baggage rates had diminished.

The chief executive, Alan Joyce, took home $2.27m in pay last financial year, boosted by bonus performance rights – voted by shareholders – of about $4m.