No more public subsidies for Qantas unless it drops outsourcing of workers & repays unpaid wages

The Federal Government should make any new funding for Qantas conditional on the airline dropping its plans to outsource 2,500 ground workers and repaying money to workers it took through wage theft and the misuse of Jobkeeper, said the Transport Workers Union.

The call comes as the Transport Minister Michael McCormack announces extended public subsidies for airlines to keep flying regional and domestic routes.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said Qantas management had already misused hundreds of millions of dollars in Jobkeeper and other public subsidies and therefore must have strict conditions imposed before receiving any more public money.

“Qantas management spectacularly lost a Federal Court case last week over the misuse of Jobkeeper and it plans to kill off 2,500 workers’ jobs. Serious questions must be asked of the Federal Government as to why they continue to pump money into a company which has no moral compass when it comes to violating the laws and the purpose of this public funding,” he said.

“Michael McCormack has been very clear today when he said more taxpayers’ money would be spent supporting airline because ‘planes in the air mean jobs on the ground’. But Qantas is not keeping jobs on the ground, it is axing and outsourcing 2,500 workers because it wants to pay workers less for the jobs they do. This is a disgraceful waste of public money and Qantas management should get not a cent more unless it agrees to halt the outsourcing,” Kaine said.

Qantas is back at the Federal Court on Wednesday over its refusal to pay sick workers, some with cancer and heart disease, the leave that they have built up over their working lives.

Media published documents showing Qantas management planned the outsourcing 10 years ago, proving it has nothing to do with the pandemic.

Swissport, which the Fair Work Commission has confirmed pay their workers below award minimums and which has been exposed over low paid workers forced to sleep at the airports, has already begun advertising for the Qantas work.

TWU is taking legal action against the outsourcing over management’s failure to consult with workers on its plan to kill their jobs and over the tendering process which has been designed to make it impossible for workers to bid for their jobs.

In documents to workers, Qantas has given workers just six weeks to make a final bid and to find $100 million labour cost savings and $80 million to fund equipment upgrades, despite the airline choosing not to do these upgrades when it made billions of dollars in profit, including $1.5 billion in profit in 2016, $1.4 billion in profit in 2017, $1.6 billion in profit in 2018 and $1.3 billion in profit in 2019.

Qantas revealed in its annual report last week it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced its CEO received $24 million pay package he was the highest paid CEO in Australia and the highest paid airline executive in the world.

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