Sick Qantas workers return to Court to fight for leave entitlements

Sick Qantas workers, including a man battling cancer, will resume their fight to receive sick leave they are owed as the case goes before the Federal Court today in an appeal.

Qantas management has refused to give sick leave to workers battling illnesses, giving them no more than government paid Jobkeeper, which this week gets cut to $600 a week for full time workers and $375 for part time workers.

The case follows a spectacular loss by Qantas management at the Federal Court last week over the wage theft and misuse of the Jobkeeper payment.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said pursuing the case was about getting justice for sick workers.

“This is about justice and fairness. When you work hard at a company and build up sick leave you should be able to access that leave when you need it most. It is despicable for Qantas management to pay millions of dollars to senior executive at the same time it denies workers battling cancer and heart disease their sick leave. The public is fed up with pumping money into a company which shows no morality or compassion,” he said.

“These workers are scared about their futures. They are battling serious illnesses and are trying to exist on a slashed back Jobkeeper. They are worried about their finances and they are worried about their jobs. Qantas management is choosing to compound their suffering by refusing them their sick leave,” Kaine added.

The TWU is also battling Qantas management over attempts to axe and outsource 2,500 ground workers so it can engage workers through labour hire firms on lower pay and conditions. Qantas management is using the pandemic to overcome legal hurdles which would make it difficult to replace its entire ground operations. Media report show documents which prove the outsourcing was planned 10 years ago.

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.

Qantas has given workers just six weeks to bid for their own jobs and they must 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 recently 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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