High Court to hear Qantas appeal on largest case of illegal sackings in australian history

Transport Workers' Union

The TWU has vowed to keep up the fight for illegally outsourced Qantas workers throughout a High Court appeal, following two emphatic Federal Court rulings that the axing of 1700 workers was unlawfully motivated to avoid enterprise bargaining rights.

Today, the High Court decided it was in the public interest to determine once and for all whether Qantas outsourcing – which has been found to be the largest case of illegal sackings in Australia – was in breach of the Fair Work Act.

The union says the High Court’s decision to grant special leave to appeal demonstrates the need for a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to cap executive bonuses and restore good quality aviation jobs and service standards.

The union has vowed to mount the strongest possible case in the High Court following two emphatic Federal Court rulings that Qantas illegally sacked workers to avoid collective bargaining and protected industrial action.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine commended workers for their courage during the two-year legal battle.

“The High Court’s decision to hear this appeal highlights the magnitude of Qantas’ actions. Illegally sacking 1700 workers in one fell swoop to avoid enterprise bargaining rights is unprecedented in Australia. While it is deeply disappointing for workers, it’s clear the High Court believes it’s in the public interest to hear such an extraordinary case which has sent shockwaves across the economy and plunged Qantas into chaos.

“Despite the ongoing crisis at the airline, overpaid executives stand by their illegal actions so vehemently they are dragging out a costly legal battle rather than reinstate or compensate the experienced workers who built the Spirit of Australia.

“Twice in the Federal Court Qantas workers have demonstrated that their sacking was deliberately targeted to avoid enterprise bargaining rights. Although they’ve faced an agonising couple of years, our members will continue to fight on to prove once and for all that Qantas broke the law. We welcome the opportunity to prove in the High Court how Qantas illegally breached the Fair Work Act.”

“Aviation is a broken industry. Under Joyce airports and aircraft have been stripped bare. Standards in aviation will continue to fall off a cliff if we allow excessive bonuses to be tied to the degradation of secure jobs and decent wages and conditions.”

“If we want to restore the spirit of Australia to air travel, we need a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to cap executive pay and prioritise good, secure jobs and standards.”


NOTES

A TWU survey earlier in the year showed around half of illegally outsourced workers remain unemployed or are relying on casual work. A third have developed a mental health condition, and one in ten said they’d experienced suicidal thoughts.

On Monday, 10 days of hearings commenced for SafeWork NSW’s prosecution of Qantas over its standing down of a health and safety rep providing legitimate advice to workers cleaning planes arriving from China in early 2020.

Since Qantas’ ground operations were outsourced to labour providers like scandal-ridden Swissport, numerous safety breaches have occurred, including:

  • Firearms unloaded onto baggage carousels
  • Dangerous goods loaded without the pilot’s knowledge
  • Baggage vehicles colliding with refueling hoses
  • Passenger stairs removed while doors are open
  • Cargo doors left open
  • Weight imbalances
  • Damage to planes and equipment from baggage vehicle collisions

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