Qantas update: High Court turns down sick workers’ leave appeal

The High Court has turned down an application by Qantas workers and their unions to hear an appeal over the airline’s refusal to pay sick leave.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the High Court’s refusal to hear the case is disappointing.

“We are very disappointed by the High Court’s refusal on legal and technical grounds to hear workers’ application to use the sick leave they have built up. It is a disgrace that sick workers have had to battle Qantas through the courts to use their leave while the Federal Government continues to pump $2 billion of taxpayers’ money into Qantas with no conditions on how it treats its workforce.”

“There is a pattern of behavior by Qantas management whereby it is acting immorally outside the law or on the edge of it. It is has denied sick workers their leave, misused Jobkeeper and outsourced its entire ground crew, and it has goaded workers that if they don’t like it they should take them on in the courts.”

“Neither the Federal Government nor the Qantas board are standing up to management but workers are and they will continue to fight for their rights,” said Kaine.

Earlier, a Qantas worker told a press conference that the airline stopped his sick leave in the middle of treatment for cancer.

“In late 2019 I was diagniosed with stage five prostate cancer that had spread. I started treatement in early 2020 and as I was in treatment the company took me off sick leave, as I managed to cope with bills and so on, and put me on Jobkeeper. I was too sick to work another job so I ended up having to leave. I find it pretty disgusting that Qantas would do this to staff,” said Peter Seymour, a former Qantas worker forced to take redunancy last year.

A separate High Court case is pending over Qantas’s misuse of Jobkeeper while a Federal Court ruling is pending on the outsourcing of 2,000 Qantas ground workers.

Today’s High Court case was taken by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers with the support of the ACTU on behalf of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

The case follows Qantas’s announcement yesterday that it will cut more jobs and impose a 2-year age freeze on workers, despite receiving $2 billion in federal public funding.

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