“heads must roll” says TWU as federal court upholds illegal outsourcing ruling, Qantas to pay compensation & penalties

Transport Workers' Union

Outsourced ground and baggage crew have defeated Qantas a second time as a full court of the Federal Court rejects the airline’s attempt to overturn a ruling that it sacked workers illegally, pushing the matter to compensation and penalties hearings.

The TWU is calling on the Qantas Board to sack Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and key decision-maker in this case CEO of Domestic and International Andrew David after Qantas was found twice to have broken the law in sacking 2000 workers.

Following two days of appeal hearings in February, the full court unanimously upheld the ruling that Qantas breached the Fair Work Act by outsourcing workers to prevent them exercising their industrial rights to bargain and take protected industrial action.

Further remedy hearings will now take place to determine the compensation Qantas should pay to workers in addition to penalties for 2,000 illegal sackings. The TWU has vowed to fight for a substantial compensation package for workers who’ve lost lifelong careers after Qantas sacked them despite the federal court case looming.

Since the outsourcing, Qantas has lost its esteemed safety ranking, a number of serious safety breaches have been reported, and passengers have suffered long delays, lost luggage and damaged property in recent airport chaos.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine congratulated workers on their second win against a corporate dictatorship and called for the sacking of overpaid Qantas executives.

“Through unity, resilience and determination, Qantas workers have achieved a huge victory. After a horror 18-months having lifelong careers savagely and illegally ripped away from them, workers stood tall and took on one of the harshest and most powerful companies in the country. Today those workers have been heard, vindicated, and celebrated for their courage.

“This is an emphatic ruling – a unanimous decision from four Federal Court judges. Qantas executives deliberately targeted and attacked workers and broke the law in sacking them to prevent them exercising their rights. Safety, service and sentiment for the airline have all plummeted over this unlawful decision to outsource. There is only one appropriate response from the Qantas board – heads must roll.

“It is regrettable that our flawed legal system can unequivocally find a corporate giant has broken the law but be unable to reverse it by giving workers their jobs back. In early 2021, Qantas deliberately forged ahead with outsourcing despite the court case looming and used this reprehensible behaviour as evidence against reinstatement. The TWU vows to take this injustice to compensation hearings and give it all we’ve got to get workers what they are owed for the pain and anguish they’ve suffered.

“Qantas operates on the edge of the law. With deep pockets full of unconditional taxpayer funding delivered by Scott Morrison, slap-on-the-wrist fines will not deter Qantas from its line of attack on wages and conditions.

“Morrison must answer for his silent backing of Qantas, now found twice by the Federal Court to have illegally sacked 2000 workers while the largest recipient of corporate welfare intended to keep workers engaged in their jobs. It is no wonder we have record low wage growth and chronic insecure work under the Morrison Government.

“The failure of the Morrison Government to implement a national aviation plan or hold Qantas to account for its actions shows how great the need for the next Government to establish an independent aviation commission to protect airport jobs, safety and service.” Kaine said.

SafeWork NSW is also prosecuting Qantas over its standing down of a health and safety rep providing legitimate advice to workers cleaning planes arriving from China in early 2020.

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