TWU statement re Qantas AGM

The Transport Workers’ Union is urging Qantas board members to hold senior management to account over the outsourcing of 2,500 ground workers which will lower standards on service, safety and security.

An “alternative” Qantas AGM will be held at Sydney airport by “Allen Joyce” and stand in board members, attended by Qantas workers frustrated that they won’t be able to ask questions to the board as it is being held via webinar with questions collated.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Qantas board has a duty to stand up to senior management.

“The Qantas board has been utterly silent since management announced it wanted to axe and outsource 2,500 loyal and highly trained workers. We know passengers won’t get as good a service from an airline that contracts out its work to the lowest bidder. We know shareholders and investors must be concerned about standards slipping with the loss of thousands of experienced dedicated workers. The Qantas board must stand up and hold management to account on behalf of workers, investors, passengers and the wider Australian community,” he said.

“We do not want to see the reputation of Australia’s iconic airline trashed by an out-of-control management. The Federal Government must also hold Qantas management to account by attaching conditions to the huge amount of public money the airline is receiving. Since the pandemic Qantas management has exploited the Federal Government’s ‘no strings attached corporate welfare’ to the tune of over $800 million dollars. Now workers are suffering and the airline in the medium to long term will also suffer. The Federal Government must demand a halt to the outsourcing, cap salaries and axe bonuses for senior management for at least five years,” Kaine said.

On Wednesday the NSW Upper House of Parliament passed a motion condemning the Qantas outsourcing and demanding that it be stopped, with a similar motion expected before the Senate in a few weeks.

The TWU has begun legal proceedings against Qantas over the outsourcing with the Fair Work Commission hearing the case. An report by Ernst & Young states the initial criteria Qantas set for workers to bid for their own jobs was “unattainable and unrealistic”.

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.

In documents to workers, Qantas initially gave workers just six weeks to make a final bid for their own jobs, and to find $100 million labour cost savings and $80 million to fund equipment upgrades.

This is 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.

Sick workers are fighting Qantas’s refusal to pay them the leave they have built up while the airline lost a high profile case last month over its abuse of the Jobkeeper Payment.

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