The Transport Workers’ Union is calling on the Qantas Board to instruct management to reinstate highly trained and experienced outsourced workers following an investigation which found worker inexperience to be the cause of a flight taking off with locking pins still in place.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s report on the incident said it was the first time any of the ground crew had towed a 787 plane and only one of the ground crew interviewed by the ATSB knew there were five gear pins.
The TWU has today sent a letter to the Qantas Board signed by 3000 former workers and supporters, including Senator Tony Sheldon, Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Hon Mark Buttigieg MLC and Ms Anika Wells MP. The letter calls on the board to direct the reinstatement of outsourced workers and to drop the appeal of the Federal Court ruling that the outsourcing decision was unlawful.
The letter highlights workers’ willingness to return to their previous jobs as the results of an independent survey revealed 78% of the outsourced workers want their jobs back.
Since Qantas outsourced its ground work, several serious safety incidents have occurred. Multiple baggage belt loaders have crashed into planes – one leaving a large hole in the aircraft, pilots have been given incorrect weight information before take-off, and passenger property has been damaged including a child’s smashed wheelchair.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Qantas Board’s inaction has put passengers in danger and wreaked havoc with the lives of long-serving Qantas families.
“This week marks 101 years of Qantas, but the spirit of Australia vanished months ago and citizens are left with a carrier which prioritises profits over safety. If the Qantas Board does not intervene in management’s reckless behaviour, it is only a matter of time before people are killed.
“The callous axing of 2000 workers was a decision that has been lashed by the Senate, by Qantas’ own shareholders, and by the Australian public. Many workers gave decades of hard work, dedication and loyalty to Qantas. Despite everything, they want to put this awful period behind them and get back to doing their jobs safely and professionally.
“We are appealing to the Qantas board to reverse this enormous misstep. Dragging families through the trauma of an appeal is wrong. Refusing to return skilled workers to Qantas is irresponsible for the business and the travelling public. It’s time for the board to make a good decision.
“At a time when there are skills shortages in Australia, the Federal Government has allowed Qantas to force highly trained and experienced workers to sit at home just for the same work to be done for less money, putting the lives of passengers and crew in danger,” he said.
Qantas’ illegal outsourcing decision was made despite being Australia’s greatest recipient of JobKeeper to the tune of $856 million which was intended to keep people connected to their jobs.
The Union’s application for reinstatement and other remedies will commence on 13th December, with the Federal Court having expressed an intention to reach a decision by the end of the year to provide workers. Appeal hearings are due to take place in February 2022.
In a recent editorial, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was asked if he regrets the outsourcing decision following the Federal Court ruling it illegal. His response was “not at all”.
In September, Qantas’ financial results posted to the ASX revealed that in the same year it illegally outsourced workers, made thousands more redundant, and enforced unilateral wage freezes for the second year running, 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. 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.