TWU demands full transparency on public subsidies for Qantas

The Transport Workers’ Union is demanding that the NSW government discloses the full amount of public subsidies, including tax waivers and direct funding, which have been promised to Qantas to keep its headquarters in Sydney.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said taxpayers had a right to know exactly what the deal involves, given Qantas is outsourcing jobs and dragging standards down in aviation.

“Qantas has been playing an expensive game of chicken, and the Treasury blinked. Qantas gamed the Treasurer into handing them a no-strings attached taxpayer-funded handout. Qantas has axed the jobs of thousands of workers and given contracts to companies known for low standards and for ripping off their workers. This ultimately hurts our economy and taxpayers will cop it. The Government should have used their leverage to make Qantas promise to restore the jobs and job security they took away,” he said.

“The Government should release every detail about this special deal immediately. If taxpayers are paying for it, taxpayers have a right to see it. Qantas has been given $2 billion by the Federal Government and appears to be getting some state governments to write blank cheques for it too. We demand full disclosure on what this involves,” he said.

The TWU wrote to all state and territory premiers last September when Qantas began its property review, urging them to set strict conditions on labour standards and outsourcing before offering any financial incentives to the airline. The TWU has been calling for conditions to include a halt to outsourcing of jobs, a cap on executive salaries and a ban on bonuses.

Qantas workers at 10 airports including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Alice Springs and Canberra were pushed out of their jobs this year after Qantas outsourced its entire ground operations. A Federal Court case is continuing to reverse the outsourcing.

Aviation workers also have two High Court challenges against Qantas, one for the refusal to pay terminally ill workers their sick leave and another over the misuse of JobKeeper to pocket workers’ overtime and penalty rates.

Qantas revealed in its annual report last year it is paying its senior executives millions of dollars. When Qantas announced last year 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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