Aviation unions the TWU, FAAA and ASU have slammed Qantas’ latest tactics to pressure workers into accepting shoddy ‘wage freeze’ deals resulting in long-term damage to their wages, conditions and superannuation.
The unions called for the $5000 ‘thank you’ payment to be paid to all workers without conditions attached, including the 2000 workers illegally sacked by the airline during the pandemic. As a result of the outsourcing, workers never received the previous conditional bonus that was also tied to enterprise agreements following the last unilateral wage freeze imposed by the airline.
Over a year later, almost half of the illegally outsourced workers are still struggling without a permanent job, according to a TWU survey released this week. Of the half who have managed to get a job, only a quarter were able to remain in aviation, 43% had to retrain or reskill and 70% are now worse off.
Qantas has used heavy-handed tactics to pressure workers into accepting wage freeze deals and substandard conditions including applying to terminate the international cabin crew agreement to hang a 40% pay cut over workers’ heads, and threats to push pilot jobs elsewhere if an agreement was not accepted.
In September 2021 Qantas’ financial report revealed CEO Alan Joyce enjoyed a pay rise in his take-home pay to $2 million and an offer of $3.7 million in performance-based bonuses, while workers were subjected to unilateral wage freezes. The top six executives received a total of $13.6 million in base salary.
In July, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors’ annual report on CEO pay showed Alan Joyce earned a total ‘realised pay’ package of $10.74 million in FY2020.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said: “This is not a ‘thank you’ payment, it’s more like a bribe. The strings attached to this sham payment are just more wage suppression tactics Qantas has become accustomed to under the 15-year Joyce regime. All workers, especially those illegally sacked by Qantas management are owed this payment and far more. Outsourced workers were already ripped off a 2019 bogus bonus designed to pressure workers into accepting shoddy deals to suppress wages and conditions. These workers never even had the chance to negotiate those agreements because Qantas management outsourced them to avoid collective bargaining – which four federal court judges unanimously agreed was unlawful.
“Under Alan Joyce, Qantas has led a years-long war on workers to control the decline in wages and conditions in aviation. This conditional payment is straight out of Joyce’s playbook. Through illegal sackings, overzealous redundancies and workers’ exercising their rights to challenge a substandard deal, thousands of workers were deprived of a bogus bonus announced in 2019 which, even if paid, in no way made up for years of unilateral wage freezes.
“For Joyce, this tactic kills two birds with one stone: distract the angry public from Qantas becoming the worst-performing airline, and pressure workers into accepting wage freezes that will crush pay and conditions at the airport for decades. We urgently need a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to bring overpaid executives into line, support decent, secure jobs and return aviation to an industry that prioritised safety and service.”
FAAA Federal Secretary Teri O’Toole said: “Qantas management doesn’t understand the meaning of negotiating ‘in good faith’. This conditional payment in no way makes up for the disgraceful tactics used by Qantas management to coerce international cabin crew into accepting a deal that they virtually unanimously voted against for how it worsened their jobs and work-life balance. Domestic cabin crew are bargaining now and we were waiting for another underhanded tactic to pressure them into a shoddy deal – well, here it is.
“Alan Joyce is on his last legs with public scrutiny and anger catching up to his cruel and calculated management style which is now having an enormous impact on passengers. Qantas management needs to stop the games, listen to workers and be fair.”
ASU Victorian Private Sector Branch Secretary Imogen Sturni said: “Qantas management has clearly decided that the ‘Spirit of Australia’ should be a chaotic, poorly-run budget airline.”
“The chaos passengers are experiencing right now is a direct result of thousands of experienced airport staff being sacked, reckless outsourcing, and staff who remain being worked to breaking point.”
“After years of real wage cuts, illegal sackings and mistreatment, Qantas workers need solid wages that keep up with the cost of living, not one-off payments and the real wage cut management is trying to force on them. Qantas management is offering a one-off payment while trying to lock in wage cuts with the other “
“It’s Qantas staff and the unions who have outlined a real plan to end the chaos by bringing back customer service staff and returning offshored services to Australia.”